Dead man walking. I think I’m talking about Joe Maddon. I’m not really sure. I know I’m a broken record. There has to be change. I mean, let’s be clear, there doesn’t have to be. The Cubs could keep doing the same things and hope for different results. I guess that would mean changing the hitting coach, the pitching coach and maybe even the bench coach. Those have been regular occurrences. Some of that is, of course, the product of having an organization that is successful year after year. Some of that has been looking for scapegoats after seasons of underachieving.
Of course, all of that change has probably screwed up at least one or two players along the way, hearing different messages and different approaches year after year. I love Joe Maddon. I think he handles coaches shows and dealing with the media about as well as anyone. I love that he embraces scouting and analytics and still believes there is a place for each in the game. I can’t see why Joe would survive the next round of changes. The only scenario that makes sense in my head there is if Joe had been preaching for a certain approach and the front office did something different and then suddenly admitted they were the ones that were wrong.
Yeah, that sounds like a fairy tale to me too. Frankly, if Joe hadn’t already won a World Series with this team and been one of the most celebrated managers in Cubs history, I’d probably call for firing him right now. Players play, coaches coach and managers manage. Ultimately, the largest share of the blame has to fall on the underachieving players. The next largest share of the blame should fall on the front office.
Here’s the deal with all of that though. It’s really hard to fire all of the players. With some players on expiring contracts, there will be roster turnover. I also don’t think Theo Epstein is likely to fire Jed Hoyer and certainly don’t think Tom Ricketts is going to fire Theo. That largely leaves Joe.
Faster than that, I think I’d be returning Cole Hamels to the IL. He’s clearly not right. He’s been pounded twice in a row. That’s not good. One of the few reasons for optimism assuming the Cubs do limp into the playoffs is the experience guys like Cole bring to the table. Of course performing well always trumps experience. But having both the experience and good results is a great mix. All the experience in the world isn’t going to matter if Cole is essentially out there throwing batting practice.
The Cubs have 42 games left in the season. They are tied for first place. They have 21 home games and 21 road games. It ain’t over. But it ain’t pretty either.
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 120, August 14: Cubs 1, Phillies 11 (64-56)
- Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.038). Anthony singled leading off the second inning. It was only 2-0 at the time. That was his only hit in four at bats and one of only four Cubs hits.
- Hero: Victor Caratini (.018). Vic had one hit in three at bats. That was in the third inning with one out. It was only 4-0 at the time.
- Sidekick: Kyle Schwarber (-.010). Hitless in three at bats with one strikeout.
- Billy Goat: Cole Hamels (-.351). He recorded only six outs. Meanwhile, he allowed nine hits, two walks and eight earned runs. He did strikeout two.
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.078). He was hitless in three at bats with one strikeout. He was also caught stealing after he followed the Anthony Rizzo single with a fielder’s choice.
- Kid: Tony Kemp (-.037). A late entry into the lineup after Jason Heyward was scratched, Tony was hitless in four at bats with two strikeouts.
WPA Play of the Game: Bryce Harper batted with a runner on first and one out in the first inning. He hit a two-run homer (.175). The game was effectively already over at that point.
*Cubs Play of the Game: Rizzo’s single leading off the second (.039)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 30.75
- Anthony Rizzo 23
- Javier Baez 12.5
- Jason Heyward/!Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Pedro Strop -17.5
Up Next: The Cubs have lost four of five and will look to avoid the sweep. The Phillies look for a third straight win. Yu Darvish makes the start. Yu is 4-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 132 innings. He is only 2-2 despite a 3.24 ERA over his last seven starts and 41⅔ innings. Last time out he lost at Cincinnati after allowing four runs on four hits in six innings of work. He struck out nine and didn’t walk any one. He was victimized by three homers. That has been Yu’s biggest problem since getting his walks under control earlier in the year. Yu made a start earlier this year against the Phillies. He received a no decision after allowing three runs on four hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out seven. He’s 1-0 in three career starts against the Phillies with a 1.96 ERA in 18⅓ innings. Current Phillies have 79 PA against Yu with a .796 OPS. The Phillies have a player named Brad Miller (who I’m reasonably sure isn’t the same guy that used to play center for the Bulls) who has a .357 OPS in 14 PA against Yu. Things have gone better for Corey Dickerson (10, 1.200) and for Cesar Hernandez (9, 1.306).
Drew Smyly starts for the Phillies. Drew is 2-6 with a 6.96 ERA in 75 innings. Over his last seven starts, dating back to May 24, Smyly is 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 36 innings. His last time out he got a no decision in a start where he was pounded by the Giants. They had seven hits, three walks, three homers and plated six runs (four earned) in 5⅔ innings. Drew has never started a game against the Cubs. The 30-year-old left-hander has reverse splits this year (.866 v RHH, 1.158 v LHH). He’s been hit hard at home (.924) and on the road (.936). Only two Cubs have ever faced Smyly. Nicholas Castellanos has a 1.069 in nine PA and Jonathan Lucroy has a 1.000 in five.
A left-handed starter whom the Cubs have never seen before, on the road? Yeah, if I were going to place a bet I’d put it on the Phillies. Despite the fact that I actually think the Cubs will win this one. I just think this feels like the kind of game where if the Cubs lose you’d be able to say it was easy to see.
How many games will the Cubs win in the final four games of this road trip?
This poll is closed
(hey, where is the player of the game question?) - 4
(Alec Mills probably deserves a hat tip) - 3
(let’s just try to forget this game ever happened) - 2
(ouch) - 1
(you’ll get nothing and you’ll like it) - big, fat zero!