This Cubs team is so much like two different teams, it makes my head spin at times. I’ve never seen anything like this team. The unbeatable juggernaut at home and the feeble team on the road. This weekend was so enjoyable. For all of the ups and downs that these last few years and in particular this year, this was a reminder of what this team is capable of. Each of the three games featured one hitter really leading the way and one starter really shutting down the other team. The bullpen closed things out without a lot of hassle over the three days and a number of hitters made contributions.
I’m still nervous about this ballclub. Not even having the cockiness that I had all of the way up until the final week of last season that this team would just go on and win the division and then we’d see what would happen afterwards. I just can’t be that way with the road woes. But after three games like this, I just have to put that away for the time being. As I’ve said in the past, your mileage may vary, but I for one am completely capable of knowing that even a weekend like this doesn’t mean that everything is fixed while also acknowledging that this team is capable of beating any team when it is playing right.
Quite the conundrum this team is. But, here we are on the morning of August 5 and the Cubs are in first place (1½ games ahead of the Cardinals and four ahead of the Brewers). The three teams have between 49 and 52 games left. Things are slowly creeping towards the wire. All things being equal, warts and all, certainly have to be happy to be standing alone on top. If you are more exuberant than me and want to get caught up in the momentum, this team is only four games in the loss column behind the Braves for the second-best record in the league.
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 111, August 4: Cubs 7, Brewers 2 (60-51)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.222). J-Hey got the Cubs started with a solo homer in the bottom of the first. He added an RBI-triple in the second. In all he had two hits in five at bats, three runs driven in and two scored. Jason’s line is up to .276/.353/.472 (wRC+ 113).
- Hero: Kyle Schwarber (.167). Schwarbs had a perfect day at the plate. He had two hits, including a solo homer, a walk and a hit by pitch in four plate appearances. He scored two runs. Kyle is back above sea level with a line of .228/.325/.484 (wRC+ 106).
- Sidekick: Yu Darvish (.156). Yu threw five innings and allowed only one run on a solo homer by MVP candidate Christian Yelich. He allowed five hits, no walks and struck out eight.
- Billy Goat: Victor Caratini (-.094). Vic had just one walk in four plate appearances.
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.038). This one needs some explanation. I feel certain that this is the first four hit game to ever land on one of the Goat podiums. Anthony had a one-out single in the second inning. The Cubs eventually loaded the bases but he was caught trying to score (-.071). All four hits were singles and two of them were worth a total of just .004 because the game was already out of hand.
- Kid: Tony Kemp (-.027). Tony had a single, a sacrifice fly and a run scored on the day.
WPA Play of the Game: Jason Heyward. Jason lands here for his RBI-triple in the second inning with two outs and a runner on second (.116). That gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. His homer in the first, which tied the game at one, was the second biggest play of the game too. (.106)
*Brewers Play of the Game: Christian Yelich’s solo homer in the first to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. (.105)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 23.5
- Anthony Rizzo 18
- Javier Baez 14.5
- Albert Almora Jr. -10.5
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- *Pedro Strop -17
Up Next: The Athletics come in having won three straight and six of seven. Over the weekend they took both games they played against the Cardinals. Before that, they took two of three from the Brewers. All of those games were in Oakland. This is the start of a road trip for them. The A’s are 63-48 overall, but only 27-25 away from home. The Cubs will be looking to start their homestand with four straight wins.
They’ll send Kyle Hendricks to the mound. Kyle is 8-8 with a 3.07 ERA in 120⅓ innings. He is 1-4 with a 3.22 ERA over his last seven starts in 36⅓ innings pitched. He was fantastic last time in St. Louis, throwing seven innings and allowing no runs on his way to a win. He allowed seven hits, no walks and seven strikeouts. He’ll look to continue a historic Cubs streak of starting pitchers not walking opposing hitters. He has one start in his career against the A’s, but it came three years ago in Oakland. He was a winner, throwing 7⅓ innings and allowing three hits, no walks and one run. He struck out four. Only five players on the A’s have ever batted against the Cubs and two of them are starting pitchers that the A’s acquired from the Reds (Tanner Roark and Homer Bailey). The two A’s with meaningful numbers are Khris Davis (19 PA, .663 OPS) and Stephen Piscotty (18, .863).
30-year-old right-hander Chris Bassitt starts for the A’s. Chris is 7-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 100⅔ innings. Over his last seven starts he is 3-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 36⅓ innings. Last time out he got a no decision against the Brewers. In that one he pitched very well, throwing six scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, one walk and six strikeouts. He’s never started a game against the Cubs. Bassitt has allowed a .701 OPS to righties and a .671 to lefties. He’s allowed a .619 OPS at home, but a .738 on the road. Just two Cubs have any experience against him. Nicholas Castellanos has 12 PA with a 1.053 OPS. Tony Kemp has one walk in two plate appearances.
Let’s hope the Cubs can keep their momentum going and their home field advantage against a very good A’s team that is a bit more mortal on the road.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Anthony Rizzo (four hit game)
Tyler Chatwood (3 IP, SV)
David Bote (2H, RBI, R)
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)