So, anything interesting happen last night? Let me see... Tyler Chatwood started for the Cubs. Tyler had been pretty good this year, doing some work erasing the nightmare that was 2018. I thought it was probably the right choice to reward a guy for being a good soldier for bouncing through all of the roles imaginable in the first few months of the season. Unfortunately, Tyler wasn’t super sharp last night. Though the control issues didn’t really surface. He did hit a batter and walk a batter in four innings of work. He was charged with three runs in large part due to allowing a homer to a rookie who has now hit 25 homers in just 74 games. Don’t be surprised if Tyler’s not the last Cub to allow a homer to the kid this weekend.
The Cubs offense went down quietly for two innings against Walker Lockett who has a major league ERA over nine (small sample size warning of course). But then, a couple of guys who people weren’t happy to see in the lineup came up with singles to start a six run rally in the third. Carlos Gonzalez had the first and then Daniel Descalso drove in the second with a single. Before the inning was up, the Mets had gone to the bullpen, the Cubs had drawn two walks, added another single, a double and a triple.
Of course, very little of what I’ve written about will be talked about at any great length. The story of last night was the major league debut of Adbert Alzolay. I just LOVE players who I have to add both their first name and their last name to my dictionary so that A) I don’t misspell them and B) look at that little squiggly red line all of the time.
Alzolay was fantastic. It was an impressive debut. I was a little surprised that he went out for the ninth inning. Joe has a long history of loving to try to let a guy get a high note to go out on. Four shutout innings would have been perfect for that. That said, Adbert is absolutely stretched out to throw five innings, particularly when he’s yet to allow a hit. I, of course, also remember that Joe gleefully stole some games in 2018 with the Eddie Butler/Mike Montgomery duo. There is certainly something to be said for coming out of a game with one reliever who isn’t available for three or four days and all of the rest of them having a day off.
Adbert allowed a solo homer in the ninth that cut the deficit to three. He then allowed his second walk of the night and it was definitely time to go get him. Steve Cishek came in and shut things down for another Cubs win.
This last 10 days or so has been a fabulous example of why I’m always preaching to try not to get too high or too low. Last things first, no one should book plans to be in Chicago in November for a parade just because the Cubs won two games in May against the White Sox and Mets. Before the season, most people thought those two teams would be well off of the pace by the end of the season. Both have flirted with being fringe contenders. The Sox definitely seem to be on an upswing. The Mets might have been able to hang around but for a rash of injuries. But the Cubs took care of business and won those two games, even against Lucas Giolito who would merit a long look for Cy Young if the season ended today.
Before that, the Cubs lost three of four in Los Angeles against a team that has both the National League’s best record and is dominant at home. Before that, they lost two of three to a Rockies team that opened the series with an eight-game home-winning streak. A tough trip in reality that had been a tough trip on paper, especially at the tail end of 16 straight days of baseball.
Every team has to deal with long stretches of baseball and I’ve not heard one Cub whining about the daunting schedule in May and June. I’m also not whining on their behalf. I’m continuing to state that the schedule is stupid. Days off should be relatively evenly spread across the season. Loading up days off in April for any team is stupid. Schedule games against division foes in April. If they get weathered out, that team comes back to town later and teams can decide between split double headers and losing days off. But when the weather isn’t a problem then all of the teams are better situated to playing the best baseball. The best baseball will always be the best ticket seller.
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 74, June 20: Cubs 7, Mets 4 (41-33)
- Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.206). Anthony had a two-run double and scored in the third inning as part of the rally. He also drew a walk in four plate appearances.
- Hero: Javier Baez (.144). Javy had two hits, an RBI-triple in that third inning and a solo homer in four at bats.
- Sidekick: Kris Bryant (.113). Kris just had one hit, but it was an RBI single in the third inning as the Cubs were erasing a 3-0 deficit.
- Honorable Mention: Adbert Alzolay (.102). Four plus innings, one hit, two walks, one run. Five strikeouts. I hope this is the first of many times I have to try to type this name right.
- Billy Goat: Tyler Chatwood (-.132). Tyler threw four innings and allowed six hits, a walk and two earned runs (three total). He struck out one. Tyler has made only two podium appearances in June and they were both of the Billy Goat variety. However, he has only three negative side appearances on the year.
- Goat: Jason Heyward (-.038). Jason had one walk in four plate appearances. He also struck out once.
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.028). Willson had one hit in four at bats on the day. He struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game: Anthony Rizzo (.179). Rizzo came to the plate in the third inning with the Cubs still trailing 3-2. There were two men on and he doubled, driving them both in to give the Cubs the lead.
*Mets Play of the Game: Peter Alonso (.153). Alonso’s two-run third-inning homer gave the Mets a short-lived three run lead.
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 14
- Anthony Rizzo 13
- Willson Contreras/Cole Hamels 8
- Pedro Strop -7.5
- *Carl Edwards Jr. -9
- Jason Heyward -18
Up Next: The Cubs will seek a third straight win while the Mets hope to avoid a third straight loss this afternoon. The Cubs will have Yu Darvish on the mound. Yu is still looking for his first decision of any kind since April. He is 2-3 on the year with a 4.65 ERA in 79⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts, he’s allowed a 4.01 ERA in 42⅔ innings. Last time out he threw seven innings of one run ball in Los Angeles. He allowed only two hits, one walk and struck out 10. Yu hasn’t faced the Mets since 2017. He did face them twice that year and allowed only three runs in 14⅓ innings for what that's worth. It isn’t surprising then that the Mets have only 57 plate appearances against him. Robinson Cano is responsible for 26 of them and he has a .945 OPS to show for it. No other Met has even 10 PA.
The Mets will have Jason Vargas on the mound. Jason left his last start early due to some cramping, but it appears that he will make the start. The Mets starter is 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 55⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 40⅓ innings. Jason made his first start against the Cubs in five years last year and was a winner at Wrigley Field. He threw 5⅓ innings and allowed four hits, two walks, and one run. He struck out six. Current Cubs have only 32 plate appearances against Vargas (and four of those are by guys currently in the minor leagues, and two others by Cole Hamels). Anthony Rizzo and Carlos Gonzalez lead the way with nine and seven PA respectively. Both have struggled (Rizzo .347 OPS and Gonzalez .286). If we look at his splits, Jason has very split neutral (.709 v RHH, .725 v LHH). He’s struggled a bit on the road (.802) as compared to home though (.625).
This looks like a sneaky tough game for the Cubs. Hopefully, Yu can keep it close and the Cubs can get it done.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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