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2019 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 125

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Cubs win third straight with 5-3 triumph over Giants

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This might be the hardest to evaluate Cubs team I can remember. I’m sure I’ve seen some Bears teams, probably during the Ditka era, that were this up and down. When this team is done, it looks like it would be a tough out in any series against any team. When this team is bad, sometimes it looks like a bunch of Triple-A players were called up to play a major league team.

Super weird. But this is what we get in 2019. My last prayer for the Cubs regular season is this: if one of these trends is going to end, PLEASE let it be the road trend and not the home one. This team has become virtually unbeatable at home. They were a good team at home leading up to the All-Star break. Since then, they are 13-3 at home. Sure, there was a sweep in there against the Pirates. But there was also a sweep in there against the Brewers, two out of three against the Reds who haven’t been an easy out and also the Athletics who are still competing for a playoff spot. Other than the Pirates, the other four teams are all competitive.

The Giants team that the Cubs beat last night hasn’t thrown in the towel yet either. Surely, they are a bit undermanned and simply running out of time to make magic happen. Fangraphs has their playoff chances down below 2 percent, so barring a stunning turn of events, this is not going to be the year for the Giants. Still, they managed three runs against Cole Hamels. Fortunately, Cubs bats led by Anthony Rizzo produced five more runs and yet another home win. This team has at least some chance at challenging the best home records in franchise history. Did I mention the inconsistency of this team?

The Cardinals have gotten into a good groove and so, the only thing this Cubs team can do if it wants another division title is keep on winning. This one marks three straight. Just in time. 37 games remain. The Cubs would need to win 23 of them (a .622 winning percentage) to get to 90 wins. Unless they are going to win every home game, they are going to need to show some improvement on the road.

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 125, August 20: Cubs 5, Giants 3 (67-58)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.289). Tony had three hits, two of which were homers, and a walk in four plate appearances. With a homer and three walks on Sunday night, Anthony has pushed his season line to .288/.400/.528. Each of those are better than his career numbers and that OBP would be the best of his career.
  • Hero: Nicholas Castellanos (.135). Nick has been on fire almost the whole time he’s been a Cub. He added three more hits including a homer in five at bats.
  • Sidekick: Kyle Schwarber (.115). Kyle added a hit and two walks in four plate appearances. His walk rate still trails his 2018 walk rate by 3%.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Kris Bryant (-.149). Going hitless in five at bats is going to be detrimental to your WPA when you follow a guy who had three hits.
  • Goat: Tony Kemp (-.102). Kyle Schwarber came closer than he probably should have to putting Tony into the Billy Goat spot. Had the Giants coralled a throw in from deep left field, Schwarber may have been tagged out for the final out of the inning ahead of Rizzo scoring a key run. As it was, the sac fly was worth (.028) for Kemp. He was hitless in his three official at bats, including grounding into a double play.
  • Kid: Javier Baez (-.081). Javy had one hit, one run scored and one strikeout in four at bats.

WPA Play of the Game: Austin Slater went deep with a man on and one out in the second inning. (-.180) After being involved with the WPA Play of the Game just one time in his first 18 starts this year, he’s now been there three straight starts and none of them in a good way.

*Cubs Play of the Game: Jonathan Lucroy’s fifth inning single with one out and runners on first and second gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead. (.133)

Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:

  • Kris Bryant 29.75
  • Anthony Rizzo 28
  • Kyle Hendricks 13
  • !Carl Edwards Jr./Jason Heyward -12
  • Pedro Strop -19.5

Up Next: Game two of a three-game set between the two teams and I’ll be in attendance. As I’ve noted, the Cubs are 3-0 so far this year when I attend live. Yu Darvish will look to continue his recent dominance and hope that the Cubs can provide him with some rare support. Yu is 4-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 139 innings. Last time out, he got a no decision in Philadelphia despite throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 42 innings and has struck out 57 and walked only six. He faced the Giants in San Francisco earlier this year and threw six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out six. Current Giants have only 85 PA against Yu with just a .601 OPS. Stephen Vogt and Evan Longoria are the only Giants with more than 10 PA against Yu. Vogt has 26 PA (.538) and Longoria 19 (.488).

Dereck Rodriguez will start for the Giants. Dereck is 5-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 71⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts he is 3-4 with a 5.08 ERA. But last time out he had one of his best starts of the season in Arizona. He allowed three hits and one walk while striking out four in seven shutout innings. The 27-year-old righthander has never started a game against the Cubs. The Cubs have just 20 PA against Rodriguez with a .261 OPS. Daniel Descalso leads the way with 6 PA and only one walk to show for it against Rodriguez, and he’s not on the team right now. Rodriguez has been pretty split neutral (.751 v RHH, .787 v LHH and .791 home v .749 road).

I’m looking for Darvish to stay hot and the offense to do enough for a fourth straight win.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (154 votes)
  • 7%
    Nicholas Castellanos
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Other (please leave suggestion below)
    (3 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now