The Cubs appear to be sliding downhill the wrong way and the brakes are out. They lost Sunday for the third straight day, for the sixth time in seven games and the eighth time in 10 games. It’s all pretty awful right now.
For a very bad team, these slides are usually talent finding its level. The team gets bashed day after day. The pitching gets bombed and the offense just isn’t able to put big crooked numbers on the board. It usually becomes demoralizing though rather than frustrating. This Cubs streak is right out of the world of frustrating. One day, the bats will score several runs like May 28 in Houston when they scored six. But on that day, the pitching got bombed and gave up nine. But then twice in this past weekend the pitching was very good, allowing only two runs in those two games, but the Cubs offense mustered only a single run in each.
The Cubs have allowed 12 runs total over the last four games. A team that is averaging five runs per game over the whole season managed to lose three of four. It’s just been that way. The bats have gone silent at a time when the pitching had been struggling. Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels have each had a good start this time through the rotation. Jose Quintana’s wasn’t bad. Hopefully, the pitching is getting back grooved in. The offense is going to come back around.
It may turn, but this team has largely been pretty bad on the road. They are just 13-16 on the road and that includes a three-game sweep of the Marlins and a two-game sweep of the Mariners. They also won two of three from the Nationals, but the Nationals do not look like they will compete this year either. The Cubs only other road series win was against the .500 Diamondbacks who had been playing better at that time. They’ve been much better at home where they own an 18-10 record and own a series win over the Dodgers who have a pretty secure hold on the best team in the NL label.
The Cubs won’t have another off day until June 17. In that stretch, they will play their whole season series against the Rockies, a home series against the Cardinals and a four-game set against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. On top of the snowed out makeup game against the Angels this afternoon, this stretch of games could make or break the Cubs season.
I picked a fine time to be away for a little while. As I’ve noted, I’ll be on hiatus after tomorrow’s recap of the Angels game. I’ll have a large recap and some thoughts about the two weeks of baseball on the off day on June 17.
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 57, June 2: Cubs 1 at Cardinals 2 (31-26)
- Superhero: Cole Hamels (.183). Cole gave the Cubs the kind of start they needed on Sunday to stop the bleeding. He allowed just two hits and two walks in seven very efficient innings. He allowed one run that was unearned. He struck out four. This start should win a huge percentage of the time for this Cubs team. On Sunday, it was a loser.
- Hero: Kyle Schwarber (.099). Kyle had a hit and two walks in four plate appearances Sunday. The other one was a strikeout.
- Sidekick: Daniel Descalso (.061). Daniel came off the bat with a key pinch hit appearance for the second straight day. This time, he got on via the walk. He does at least appear to be responding to the just get on base in any way you can role.
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.190). David was hitless in four at bats. He made the first out of the eighth inning with it still a 1-0 game (-.053) and then the last out of the game with the tying run on first (-.075).
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.182). Javy was hitless in four at bats with two strikeouts. He lands here because he grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and one out in the first. (-.085)
- Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.177). Anthony had just one walk in four plate appearances. Anthony was the victim of two nice defensive plays that very likely took away two hits. The first was a line drive that turned into a double play in the sixth (-.083). Then, Kolton Wong made a fine running catch on Rizzo with two on and two outs to end the eighth (-.103). If either one of those land, this was a totally different game.
WPA Play of the Game: Kris Bryant batted with runners on first and second and one out in the eighth, just in front of the Wong play on Rizzo. He struck out in a particularly bad spot. (-.106).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jason Heyward singled to left after Willson Contreras had drawn a one out walk. The Cubs had runners on first and third with only one out, trailing by two. (.089).
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 14.5
- Willson Contreras 8.5
- Kris Bryant 6
- Jason Heyward/Yu Darvish -7
- Carl Edwards Jr. -10
- Kyle Schwarber -11.5
Up Next: The Cubs will look to put a stop to this streak of losing as they come back home to Wrigley Field. The two teams split their two games back in April with the Cubs winning game one 5-1 and then losing the second game 6-5 after a questionable checked swing call. The Angels have won seven of 10 and are only one game under .500 now for the season. That has them sitting in third place in the AL West, though they are 10 1⁄2 games back in the division. Still, the Angels are sitting just two games behind the second wildcard spot (with three other teams) currently being held by the Texas Rangers.
Jon Lester will be on the mound for the Cubs. After a terrific start to his season, Jon has lost his last three starts and hasn’t looked good in any of them. He’s thrown only 14 innings in the three starts and been hammered for 19 runs (16 earned). Still, Jon is 3-4 on the season with a 3.59 ERA over 52⅔ innings. He hasn’t faced the Angels since 2016. For what that’s worth, he went seven innings in that one to collect a win. He allowed four hits, no walks and one run. The Angles have just 100 career plate appearances against Jon and the huge majority of that is held between five players. Zack Cozart is the most familiar face (19 PA with an .845 OPS). Mike Trout has seen Jon for 15 total PA with just a .343 OPS.
The Angels have won seven of 10 and are only one game under .500 now for the season. That has them sitting in third place in the AL West, though they are 10½ games back in the division. Still, the Angels are sitting just two games behind the second wild card spot (with three other teams) currently being held by the Texas Rangers.
The Angels will be sending an “opener” to the mound in Cam Bedrosian. Cam has appeared in 26 games, four of them in the opener role. He hasn’t pitched even two innings in a single appearance. Cam is a 27-year-old right handed pitcher. He’s 2-3 with a 3.08 ERA. He does have one loss in the opener role (which is a minor peril of the role since you can lose but never win).
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