And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
All right, this Frank Sinatra interlude ends here. I have regrets. I have a lot of them. I regret that the Cubs basically decided that backup shortstop wasn’t important this year. That led to Javier Baez continuing to play even after he was hurt. On May 7, the Cubs won a game against the Marlins in Wrigley Field. After that game, Javy had a line of .321/.356/.657. He was trailing the monstrous starts by Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich, but looked every bit the part of a guy who finished second in the MVP voting in 2018. The Cubs were 20-13 at that point.
Since that date, the Cubs are 49-48. Javy started 92 of those 97 games and played in two in addition to that. Unsurprisingly, they are 0-3 over that time when he doesn’t play. But, the sad thing to watch is that Baez has 387 PA over that time with a line of .266/.297/.482. For a guy who plays good defense, those aren’t bad numbers. His season numbers are actually only a tick off of last year’s numbers. So we can’t know. We can’t know if he was going to further evolve to be the kind of player he was over that first month plus of the season or if that was one of those red hot starts that is magnified because it is right at the start of the season, not at the end.
I regret that the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood. There were flashes this season of Tyler being something more. Certainly, he’s been better than he was last year. Perhaps if he got a change of scenery and returned to the starting rotation he’d work out his struggles. But he can’t seem to keep it together here. I argued for him to get more innings and he’s gotten them. But, they have been far from exceptional.
The Cubs faced a big challenge over the weekend and they did not respond at all to it. They came up empty handed. I’ll have a cumulative standings piece for Heroes and Goats before the Cubs play again. In that piece, I’ll talk more about the bigger picture. Suffice to say, this was a really tough weekend and a big setback, particularly for any hopes of a division title.
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 130, August 25: Cubs 5, Nationals 7 (69-61)
- Superhero: Kyle Schwarber (.298). Kyle was the only Cub with two hits in this game. One of them was a two-run game-tying homer. He also struck out twice.
- Hero/Sidekick: Steve Cishek/Craig Kimbrel (.133). Each threw a scoreless inning. Kimbrel worked around a hit and a walk. Cishek allowed nothing. Each struck out one.
- Billy Goat: Tyler Chatwood (-.413). Tyler threw an inning, allowed three hits, and two runs.
- Goat: Kyle Ryan (-.367). When Kyle entered the game, the bases were loaded with two outs and the game was tied at two in the seventh inning. He allowed an RBI-single followed by a two-run single.
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.149). Javy had just one walk in five plate appearances. He struck out twice. He did score on the Schwarber game-tying homer.
WPA Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber (.414). For a guy maligned for his inability to hit in the clutch, Kyle does have some big moments. This gives him three of the top nine WPA events of the season.
*Nationals Play of the Game: Trea Turner doubled in the 11th inning with a runner on first and no outs. (.239)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
A full standings piece will be released before the next Cubs game Tuesday night.
Up Next: Two teams who have played identically over the last nine games will square off. Each team lost a game, then won five straight, then got swept three straight over the weekend. The Mets are 67-63. They have won 13 of 20 and 21 of 30 to get to that point. The Cubs are dead even over their last 10, 20 and 30 games. The Mets now sit two games behind the Cubs for the last wildcard spot. Only one team sits between the two teams, though the Brewers are even with the Mets.
In game one of the three game set in New York, the Cubs will have Yu Darvish on the mound. Yu is 4-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 144⅓ innings. Over his last seven, he is 2-2 with a 3.70 ERA in 41⅓ innings. Those recent numbers are inflated by a tough start last time out where Darvish allowed seven runs (six earned) in just seven innings of work. This despite striking out eight and walking none. The problem? He allowed four homers. He’s allowed 30 of them on the season (and only 74 runs in total). That has been the Achilles’ Heel.
Yu did face the Mets back in June when the Cubs were splitting a four game set at home. In that one, Yu got a no decision in a game where he allowed four runs in six innings. He allowed four hits, two walks and struck out six. The Mets hit two homers. The Mets did end up winning that one 5-4. Current Mets have just 75 PA with a .798 OPS against Yu. 29 of those belong to Robinson Cano (.845), and Cano is injured and won’t play in this series. Michael Conforto also has a 1.159 in his nine PA.
The Mets will start their big trade deadline acquisition Marcus Stroman. Marcus is 7-11 with a 3.18 ERA in 144⅓ innings. Over his last seven, he is 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA. Last time out he only went four innings before departing with a minor injury. He allowed five hits, one walk and one run at home against the Indians. He’s 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA in 19⅔ innings over four starts as a Met. The team is 4-0 in his four starts though.
The 28-year-old Stroman has made only one career start against the Cubs and that came way back in 2014. He threw a complete-game shutout allowing three hits, no walks and striking out eight. This team is just a slight bit different than that one. Stroman has been brutal against right-handed hitters (.579), but can be knocked around a little by lefties (.794). He’s had worse numbers at home (.733) than on the road (.636), but of course a lot of those starts were in Toronto and not New York. Current Cubs have just 29 PA with a .669 OPS against Stroman. But more than half of that belongs to Nicholas Castellanos (.557 in 15 PA). Jonathan Lucroy does have a 1.800 OPS in just five plate appearances (four hits including a double).
The Cubs will face three very talented Mets starters in this series.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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