The Cubs are so cheap they can’t even afford to put logos and names on the jerseys anymore. Oh wait, that’s not at all true. It’s just a silly gimmick that MLB came up with. I’ve seen some silly ideas through the years, but this one just might take the cake. They looked awful when they were posted online some weeks ago. Seeing them actually on the players was worse. I could maybe have gotten behind it if the “Players Weekend” name was actually in color. Highlighting what was different. Maybe.
There was baseball played in the stupid uniforms. But, at least from the Cubs part, it wasn’t good baseball. The offense was held in check all of the way until the ninth inning. It is very likely that Anibal Sanchez reaches retirement with just nasty numbers against the Cubs. Not Randy Johnson numbers by any means, but still awfully good. Fortunately, the Cubs haven’t faced him a whole lot over the last few years. I had said ahead of this one that the match-up looked tough. It seems like every time I note that, the game is a tough one. Unfortunately, when I think the match-up is favorable, it doesn’t always go that way.
The pitching wasn’t any more effective than the hitting was. Jon Lester struggled again. Pedro Strop followed and wasn’t a ton better. Derek Holland and David Phelps were also each tagged with a run in their inning of work. Steve Cishek got what will amount to an inning of rehab work. It just wasn’t really pretty.
This was one of the few home clunkers of the season to date. So, of course, in this season of struggles, the Cubs lost and both the Cardinals and Brewers won. Back to second place. Nothing is going to be easy. I still think that the division is firmly the Cubs’ to win, but with 34 games to play with the teams knotted up the way they are, any kind of misstep and A) they won’t win the division and B) even a wild card berth isn’t guaranteed. They should pull through. No questions. I’m just acknowledging that when you have no margin for error, things can go wonky with one untimely extended losing streak.
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 128, August 23: Cubs 3, Nationals 9 (69-59)
- Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.024). Anthony had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances. He drove in a run in the ninth inning. He also struck out once.
- Hero: Nicholas Castellanos (.004). Nick was the only one to get a hit off of Sanchez. He added a second hit in the ninth inning, he also drove in a run.
- Sidekick: Tyler Chatwood (.002). Tyler threw a scoreless inning. Am I the only one who trusts Tyler more than Joe Maddon does? He threw with the “B” team in this one and like Kyle Ryan and Rowan Wick, I have to wonder if he shouldn’t start getting a bit more leverage on a team with a shaky bullpen.
- Billy Goat: Jon Lester (-.220). I keep thinking/hoping that Jon is just working some things out. But it’s definitely been a really rough stretch. He allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk in just 4⅓ innings.
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.089). The blow out allowed for a couple of innings off for the Cubs struggling shortstop. He was hitless in two at bats before he left.
- Kid: Pedro Strop (-.061). Pedro hit a batter, allowed a hit, a walk and a run in just two-thirds of an inning.
WPA Play of the Game: Adam Eaton homered with one out in the first inning. (.103)
*Cubs Play of the Game: After a Jon Lester error put the first runner on in the second inning, he induced a double play grounder. (.068)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 34
- Kris Bryant 29.75
- Kyle Hendricks 16
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12/Jason Heyward -12
- Pedro Strop -20.5
Up Next: The Cubs will look to bounce back from their series-opening loss. The Nationals will look for a sixth win in seven games as they look to keep their slim division title hopes alive. The Cubs send one of their hottest pitchers to the mound. Jose Quintana is 11-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 142⅔ innings. Over his last seven starts he is 5-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 41⅔ innings. Last time out he was superb against the struggling Pirates. He threw seven scoreless innings in Pittsburgh. He allowed five hits, no walks and struck out seven. Oddly enough, Jose has never faced the Nationals in a regular season game. Current Nationals do have 163 PA appearances against him with a .627 OPS due to the number of players who have faced him while playing for other teams. Brian Dozier has the most PA (55) and has a .735 OPS. Howie Kendrick is a guy with good success against Q with a 1.183 OPS in 12 PA, including five hits and two walks.
Joe Ross is the Nationals starter. He is 3-3 with a 5.48 ERA in just 46 innings as he’s largely worked out of the pen. He’s made only five starts this year, with his first start coming a little over a month ago on July 21. Last time out, he left a start early on August 19. He threw 3⅓ innings and allowed three hits, no runs and struck out two. He started a game against the Cubs last September. He got a no decision for five innings of work. He allowed four hits, two walks and two runs.
Ross has allowed a .725 OPS to right-handed hitters and a .916 OPS to left-handed hitters. He has allowed a 1.068 OPS at home but only a .633 on the road. Current Cubs have only 72 PA against him with a .782 OPS. Anthony Rizzo has the most PA (12) and a 1.136 OPS. Nicholas Castellanos has only three PA but has one homer.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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No, really, no one
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