This team is dead in the water right now. So talented, even if flawed, and yet so over matched right now. Tuesday night was more of the same. The bats mustered six hits and two walks. Finally, in the ninth inning they pushed across a run. But it was, of course, too little and too late.
It probably didn’t end up mattering, but you’ve seen the carnage by now. Mike Montgomery was summoned for what seems like 10 times too many to try to get a key out against a lefthanded hitter.
Al wrote it up this way:
Only the thing is, Montgomery is not better against lefthanded hitters, not this year, anyway. Coming into this game: .877 OPS vs. RHB, 1.337 OPS vs. LHB. No, that is not a misprint, and that 1.337 OPS contained a .500 BA (17-for-34).
Still, Joe summoned Montgomery to face red-hot Adam Frazier. Here’s my take on that part of the move. If Mike was in the middle of a long relief outing and had to face the red hot Frazier (as he did the next time), I’m not going to make the overreaction and get him out of the game in that spot. But to bring him in to face that batter?
What’s worse? It’s a minuscule sample, but Dillon Maples had faced 11 left handed hitters to date in the majors. His line? .000/.455/.000. So yes, five walks to 11 batters is definitely scary. But a walk isn’t going to per se do any damage with runners on first and third. Unless, of course, he threw a wild pitch (which isn’t exactly a crazy possibility).
I don’t often rant on Joe moves, but that one was easy to first guess. Did I expect a three-run homer? No. Did I expect Frazier to get a hit? Absolutely. Did the Cubs offense look like a two run deficit might be a chore already? Absolutely. Joe wanted Montgomery for a long relief outing, but threw Maples before him. It was too cute. In the fourth inning of a 2-0 game against a team that pitches pretty well, while your team is struggling, you don’t throw a pitcher who you don’t trust to work his way out of trouble.
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 86, July 2: Cubs 1 at Pirates 5 (45-41)
- Superhero: Kyle Schwarber (.027). Kyle clearly heard me comment on him several times yesterday that his walk rate is too low. He drew two of them in four plate appearances. One lead to him scoring the Cubs lone run.
- Hero: Randy Rosario (.001). Randy threw a scoreless eighth. Make the most of it, I assume you aren’t here long...
- Sidekick: Dillon Maples (-.001). He allowed one hit and one walk in two thirds of an inning. He struck out one and was charged with two runs when Montgomery allowed his homer. This is a disgusting line to get a spot in the top three, but it was that kind of night. I suspect he and Rosario are on their way back to Iowa for fresh bodies.
- Billy Goat: Mike Montgomery (-.134). Monty worked a very good three innings of work, allowing just one hit from the fifth to the seventh. Unfortunately, there were the three batters he faced in the fourth, the first of which hit a three-run homer that pretty much put the game out of reach.
- Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.092). Kyle was okay in his three innings of work before the rain. He allowed four hits, a walk and two runs. He struck out four.
- Kid: Kris Bryant (-.070). Rough day at the office for Kris. Hitless in four at bats. Four strikeouts.
WPA Play of the Game: Adam Frazier’s three-run homer off of Mike Montgomery. (.150)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber walked to lead off the fourth inning (.045).
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 15
- Kris Bryant 12
- Willson Contreras 9
- *Carl Edwards Jr. -9
- Jason Heyward -10
- Yu Darvish -12
Up Next: Game three of a four game set. The Cubs will look to avoid a fourth straight loss, five of six and seven of nine. The Pirates will look for a third straight win, six of eight and eight of 11. The Pirates are also now only two under .500 while the Cubs are four over.
Heroes and Goats is super excited to see that the player in last place in the season standings is the guy we are turning to looking to stop the backslide. Yu Darvish is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 90 ⅓ innings. He hasn’t won a game since April. Over his last seven starts, he is 0-1 with a 4.89 ERA in 42⅓ innings. Last time out he allowed five hits, and five runs in five innings. He struck out eight and walked two while allowing two homers. He faced the Pirates in April and lost that one. He threw 5⅓ innings and allowed five hits, five runs (four earned). He struck out four and walked none. He allowed two homers. Current Pirates have just 53 plate appearances and 16 of those belong to Melky Cabrera who hasn’t yet seen the field in this series (.598). 10 more belong to the injured Francisco Cervelli. Corey Dickerson and two singles, a double and a homer in just seven PA (1.714 OPS).
The Pirates send Chris Archer to the hill. Chris is 3-6 with a 5.50 ERA in 73⅔ innings. Over his last seven starts, he’s 2-2 with a 5.45 ERA in 38 innings. He hasn’t won since the first week of June himself. Last time out he received a no decision in Milwaukee. He threw four innings and allowed three hits, two walks and two runs. He struck out six. He left that one after throwing only 67 pitches.
Chris pitched once against the Cubs in 2018 and was quite good. He got the win for six shutout innings in a game at Wrigley. He allowed four hits, two walks and struck out nine. Chris is split neutral (.838 v RHH, .833 v LHH). He’s been significantly better at home (.755) than on the road (.953). Current Cubs have just 63 PA against him with a .778 OPS. Anthony Rizzo has the most PA (.861). Javier Baez (9 PA, 1.222 OPS) and Jason Heyward (7, 1.214) have the best results.
It’s hard to call a game in July a must win, especially when you are still only one game out of first and sitting in the second wildcard spot (half a game behind the first, half a game ahead of the third). But this feels like a game the Cubs really need to win. Again, super excited that it’s a Darvish turn.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Didn’t really feel like there was one...
Kyle Schwarber had the most WPA...
Willson Contreras drove in the only run...
it was good to see Kyle Hendricks back on the mound...