I often look at a game or a group of games or the performance of an individual and see both the glass half empty and half full. There was a whole lot of that going with the performance of Kyle Hendricks, in this game, and in the weekend as a whole. Overwhelmingly, it is hard to be too disappointed with taking two of three games and the one loss being a tie game after six innings.
We start with Kyle Hendricks. Kyle takes a loss in this game. He still hasn’t won since before his injury on June 14 in Los Angeles. Prior to that start, he had won his last three starts and hadn’t lost a game since April 26. Now he is 0-3 since his return, he’s lost his last four decisions including the one at Dodger Stadium. But, here’s the good news. Kyle threw seven innings and allowed only four hits, two walks and two runs. That performance is going to get it done more times than not.
A pause for a weird statistic that I pointed out yesterday and then recalled as the game remained tied at one for six innings. Since coming off the Injured List, Kyle has now made four starts. On July 2 against the Pirates, he pitched three innings and allowed four hits and two runs (he walked only one). On July 7 against the White Sox, he pitched four innings and allowed four hits and two runs (he walked two). On July 15 against the Reds, he pitched six innings and allowed four hits and two runs (he walked two). Yesterday against the Padres he threw seven innings and allowed four hits and two runs (he walked two). I’m going to guess that if he can keep that trend going out to eight and even nine innings some wins will follow.
As for the game itself, the good news? The Cubs had allowed just one run through six innings against a talented Padres offense. Kyle did allow the go ahead homer in the seventh. Then the wheels fell off on the bullpen in the ninth inning and that was pretty much that. The Cubs managed only one run against the left-handed “opener,” Adrian Morejon, making his MLB debut for the Padres. They did manage three hits against him in just 2⅓ innings. Then right-handed Cal Quantrill held them to just two hits over 5⅔ innings. All together, the Cubs mustered only six hits.
For the weekend, the Cubs played some sloppy uneven baseball against a team on the rise. They won two out of three games. Certainly, Sunday afternoon’s game felt like it was there for the taking, but the bats fizzled and the pitching couldn’t match the zeroes Padres pitching was putting up. There was plenty to enjoy over the weekend including some strong performances by Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo who have been stuck in second gear for a while. There was also a lot of bad. Missed plays, base-running gaffes and inept hitting.
In Albert Almora Jr. and Martin Maldonado, the Cubs have two of the least productive players in MLB with meaningful playing time. Addison Russell also has a below average bat, though fWAR has him at 0.8 fWAR in just 53 games played which would be over a 2 fWAR season with enough playing time. David Bote is another bat bobbing along around average, but he has 1.1 fWAR in 86 games. He should notch just shy of 2 fWAR. Almora and Maldonado are at 0.0 and -0.2 respectively. It’s hard to consistently produce offense with two non-productive players in the lineup. Hopefully, Willson Contreras returns to the lineup within the next few days. And outfield help remains the most pressing need on this Cub team. Be it from Ian Happ, or if the front office doesn’t feel he’s going to provide impact this year, then from outside of the organization. The team can’t count on Ben Zobrist to both return and spark the offense after having been out for months.
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 99, July 21: Cubs 1, Padres 5 (54-45)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.062). Kyle was one of the few bright spots, despite being the losing pitcher, with seven innings of two runs allowed.
- Hero: Brad Brach (.049). Brach threw one inning, walked one and struck out one. A decent performance out of the most maligned member of the Cubs bullpen.
- Sidekick: Kris Bryant (.034). Way back in the first inning, this game looked promising. Kris followed a one out Javier Baez single with a double and the Cubs were in business. That was his only hit in four at bats.
- Billy Goat: Carl Edwards Jr. (-.146). I don’t often dispute the decision-making of Joe Maddon. Carl was making his first MLB appearance since June 9 following an injury. He was summoned with two on and two out in the ninth inning. On the upside, he only needed to record one out. On the down side, this was a one-run game. Was being the key word. Carl walked the first batter he faced, then hit a batter. That was followed with a two-run single and that was pretty much the game.
- Goat: Robel Garcia (-.116). Robel batted with a runner on third and two outs in the first and flew out. He batted in the fourth with no outs and a runner on first and flew out to left. He then struck out with a runner on second to end the game. He was hitless in four at bats in all.
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.101). Jason was hitless in three at bats. The big one for him was a line out in the fourth that turned into a double play.
WPA Play of the Game: Francisco Mejia hit a solo homer off of Kyle Hendricks leading off the seventh inning. (.201).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Kris Bryant’s first inning double. (.084)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 25
- Kris Bryant 23.5
- *Willson Contreras 11
- Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Jason Heyward -12
- Albert Almora Jr. -14.5
Up Next: The Cubs head west to play the Giants. The Giants are one of the few teams hotter than the Cubs in all of baseball. They just took three out of four from the Mets by winning Sunday after having their seven game winning streak snapped on Saturday. The Giants have won 16 of 20 to get back into the wildcard race. Overall, they are sitting at 50-50. That has them a mere 2½ games behind the Brewers for the last playoff spot. The Giants are only 23-27 at home though.
The Cubs will have Alec Mills take the first start of this series. Alec has made one start this year. In that one, he allowed three runs in the first inning, then settled down to throw five scoreless innings. He uncharacteristically hit four batters in that start. He also allowed five hits and one walk while striking out six. This is just the fourth MLB start for Mills. No Giant has ever faced him at the big league level.
24-year-old Shaun Anderson is the opposition. Shaun is 3-2 with a 4.87 ERA in 64⅔ innings since being called up. This is his rookie season. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 36⅔ innings. He generally only works about five innings and has only faced six batters in the seventh inning this year. His splits are interesting as he has really struggled in the sixth (.940 OPS) and seventh innings (1.100). But, he also has these numbers: 1st time through the order (.873), 2nd time (.749), 3rd time (.763). Most of the homers and walks are allowed within the first three innings.
Anderson has allowed a .772 OPS to righties and a .826 to lefties. He’s much better at home (.695) than away (.872). At home, he has a much better strikeout-to-walk ratio and has only allowed one homer in 118 PA.
This one is no gimme.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Anthony Rizzo (two hits and the only RBI)
Other (please leave suggestion in the comments)