Al usually captions these games with “I watched this game so you didn’t have to.” Thing is, I didn’t watch this one. I had an engagement and didn’t watch. The first time I looked at my phone, it was already 11-0. I got on Twitter after the game and saw that the Cubs had scored four, Taylor Davis got to pitch and Kyle Schwarber got to catch.
So I’m sure there was some silly time at the game. Silly time doesn’t make up for getting your butt kicked. And let’s make no mistake, that’s what happened here, the Cubs got their butt kicked. So little to see here, I really just want to move along. You can’t make too much of a lopsided game against another good team. Both teams are likely headed to the playoffs. This one got sideways and this wasn’t the kind of day that the Cubs could afford to throw six or seven relievers and try to stop the bleeding and mount a comeback. So Jon Lester wore an ugly one.
Silliness on the field leads to silliness for Heroes and Goats. This game will feature the first time in the history of this series that we will award quarter points. This game got so lopsided, so fast that no one on the Cubs really produced any positive WPA. And so it is that four players produced some nominal value and I’m letting all four of them share the goat award. That on top of two guys sharing the Superhero and Hero awards at the top. Other than that, a wholly uninteresting game from a WPA standpoint. The Cubs got ambushed and offered no real response.
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 113, August 6: Cubs 4, A’s 11 (61-52)
- Superhero/Hero: Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ (.002). Jon Lester actually reached on an error in his only at bat in the second (.005). After that was moved out, it leaves Happ with two hits in two at bats, including a double. Almora had just one walk in four plate appearances, but that was good enough to land Albert here.
- Sidekick: Kris Bryant/Kyle Schwarber/Derek Holland/Duane Underwood Jr.(.001). If you approach this from the perspective of “if the Cubs were going to come from behind, down 11, which contributions would have been key to getting it started?,” Kris Bryant had two hits in four at bats, one of which was a homer. He drove in two and scored one. Kyle Schwarber came off the bench and got an at bat. He had a two-run single. Derek Holland threw two innings and allowed only one walk. Duane Underwood one upped that with two perfect innings, striking out all six batters he faced.
- Billy Goat: Jon Lester. (-.428). Four innings pitched, 10 hits, three walks, 10 earned runs (11 overall). Quite simply, one of the worst nights of Jon’s career.
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.024). Anthony was hitless in just two at bats. He lands here because he made the last out of the first inning after Bryant had singled. At the time, it was still 0-0, so that was one of the last Cubs at bats with any real leverage left.
- Kid: Nicholas Castellanos (-.022). Nick had two more hits in five at bats. Again, the story is that he made the second out of the first inning while it is 0-0. When the game gets lopsided quickly, your first at bat basically determines your relative placing.
WPA Play of the Game: Dustin Garneau homered with one out in the second inning. There were two on and that gave the A’s a 4-0 lead. (.199)
*Cubs WPA Play of the Game: Jon Lester induced a double play to end the first off of the bat of Matt Olson. (.050)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 22.75
- Javier Baez 17.5
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Yu Darvish -10
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Pedro Strop -17
Up Next: The Cubs have only lost one series this year at Wrigley Field and they’ll be trying to avoid a second. They’ve won four of five on this homestand and they’ll look to close it out with a fifth win. The A’s have won seven of nine and will look to win this series on the first stop of an eight game road trip that will continue on the south side on Friday. The A’s are sitting half a game out of the second wild card position in the AL.
The Cubs will have Jose Quintana on the hill. Jose is 9-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 122⅔ innings. Over his last seven starts, he is 5-1 despite a 5.54 ERA in 39 innings of work. His last seven has been dragged down by a rough start against the Mets in late June, but that will finally roll off after this start. Last time out he was very good against the Brewers in a win. He threw six innings, allowing seven hits, no walks and two runs. He struck out five. He made two starts against the A’s in 2016 while still a member of the White Sox. He was 1-0 and allowed four runs in 12⅔ innings. Current A’s have only 55 plate appearances against Q with a .949 OPS. Robbie Grossman has a huge portion of those with a .668 OPS in 22 PA.
The A’s have Homer Bailey on the mound. Homer is also 9-7 (this is the second straight game between these two teams that featured both starters at 9-7). Bailey has a 5.20 ERA in 110⅔ innings. Over his last seven, he’s 3-1 with a 6.00 ERA. That ERA is inflated by a start in Houston where he allowed nine earned runs in two innings. Bailey’s last seven can be split pretty easily. He’s pitched pretty well in five home starts (2-0, 10 ER in 29 IP). He’s gotten crushed in two road starts (0-1, 14 ER in seven IP). Like Quintana, his last start was against the Brewers. Homer threw six innings and allowed five hits, three walks and two runs while striking out five. He got a no decision.
Homer made two starts against the Cubs last year while still a member of the Reds. Homer was 0-2 in those starts, throwing 9⅔ innings and allowing 12 runs (nine earned). The 33-year-old right-hander has allowed an .826 OPS to right-handed hitters and a .716 to left-handers. He’s been fairly split neutral over his career (.744 v RHH, .777 v LHH). He’s made 13 home starts and allowed a .710 OPS in those, but in nine road starts he’s allowed an .872. Current Cubs have 145 PA against Homer with an .806. They are lead by Anthony Rizzo with 35 PA and a 1.264 that includes four doubles, two homers, six walks and a hit by pitch. Jason Heyward has also had good success in 22 PA with a .983.
Hopefully, the Cubs can beat up on an old friend while getting a solid outing from the usually dependable Jose Quintana and ride that to a series win ahead of a 10 game road trip starting tomorrow.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Um, there really wasn’t one?
Duane Underwood Jr. (6K in 6 batters will play any time)
Nick Castellanos (dude just keeps hitting)
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)