Welcome to the brief Sunday edition of Heroes and Goats. The Cubs played until the wee hours of the morning
last night early this morning. Now they have to get right back to the park after another loss. This one was 7-4. About a month ago, the Cubs started the Cardinals into a nasty tailspin when they came to Wrigley Field. That knocked the Cardinals out of first place and sent them to one of the worse months in Cardinals history. No doubt, the Cardinals are delighted at continuing the struggles of these Cubs.
A few weeks ago, I was consistent in saying that no team is as good as it looks while it is on fire. That Cubs team looked like an unstoppable juggernaut. Or at least a largely unstoppable juggernaut. As some might be quick to point out, if you could play them close, you might beat their bullpen at the end. That was how a good portion of the losses were during that stretch.
Now, I have to remind you that no team is as bad as it looks when it is in a tailspin. This too shall pass. I see the same things you guys do. The team looks largely dead in the water right now. There are, of course, exceptions like Anthony Rizzo. Anthony looks like he might want to take a run at finishing third in the MVP race behind Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich right now. But the Cubs just aren’t stringing enough positives together to make anything happen right at the moment.
Virtually every team, even the best of them goes through a stretch like this. I’m sure there is probably an example or two of the very best teams in history who avoided an extended tailspin. But the one we know best, the 2016 Cubs, went through a stretch like this heading into their All-Star break. Most of the worst teams ever have a stretch where they reel off a good number of wins in proximity. Good teams play bad, bad teams play good. Such is the nature of baseball and its long season.
This is obviously not a historically great team, but it can still be a team that goes places. The wish list come late September looks something like this:
- Get into the playoffs
- Be healthy when the playoffs start
- Be rested when the playoffs start
- Be playing well when the playoffs start
- Have a good idea what the players on your roster are capable and how best to deploy them in key situations
- Have home field advantage in the playoffs.
Teams have won without being able to check all six boxes. That first one is the only must have on the whole list. The rest can flip (in either direction) as the playoffs move along.
As a last note, I want to give the first heads up. I will be taking a hiatus after my recap following the Angels game on Monday. I will return in a couple of weeks. I will at that time provide an overview of the games while I was gone.
With that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s game as we look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. As always the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added — here’s a good explanation of how WPA works) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. Also note, for the purposes of Heroes and Goats, we ignore the results of pitchers while they are batting and hitters while they are pitching. With that, we get to the results.
Game 56, June 1: Cubs 4 at Cardinals 7 (31-25)
- Superhero: Daniel Descalso (.123). Daniel didn’t start the game, but he had a pinch hit bunt single with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh.
- Hero: David Bote (.061). David had an RBI double after Addison Russell led off the seventh with a single. This was David’s only hit on the night. He did score following the double. He struck out twice.
- Sidekick: Anthony Rizzo (.060). Anthony stayed hot with his 16th homer in the first inning. He added another hit and a walk. He struck out in his other at bat.
- Billy Goat: Tyler Chatwood (-.269). Tyler was summoned to give the Cubs some innings after the rain delay. He threw two innings and was tagged for five hits and three runs. This is the first time Tyler has appeared on the negative side of the ledger in almost two months.
- Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.175). Kyle’s struggles continue. He was hitless in four at bats with a strikeout.
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.125). Willson had a brutal night at the plate with four strikeouts in four at bats.
WPA Play of the Game: In the sixth inning, Tyler Chatwood retired the first batter he faced. He then allowed a one out single. That brought Matt Wieters to the plate. Wieters doubled, scoring the go ahead run. (.193)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Descalso’s bunt single in the seventh inning had the Cubs in business. (.131) That was part of three hits and a walk to start the inning. Unfortunately, the next three hitters were retired in order including two strikeouts and the Cubs only plated two runs.
Cumulative Standings Top Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 15.5
- Willson Contreras 8.5
- Kris Bryant 6
- Jason Heyward/Yu Darvish -7
- Carl Edwards Jr. -10
- Kyle Schwarber -13.5
Up Next: The two teams complete their three-game series. The Cubs will be trying to avoid a fourth straight loss. The Cardinals will be trying for a fourth straight win. Al will have a preview of Cole Hamels versus Adam Wainwright coming up at 11:30 CT.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Carl Edwards Jr.