Trade deadline deals are funny. Some of the after effects happen immediately. Some play out over the course of years. Right now, just a little over a week after the deals were done, it seems like the Cubs got an overwhelming amount of return on their trades. Nicholas Castellanos has been worth his weight in gold so far as a Cub. What goes up must come down. This won’t last forever, but boy has it been fun to watch.
The addition of Castellanos via the trade market along with the internal addition of the return of Ian Happ from Iowa have given the Cubs a real boost offensively. The Cubs offense had been averaging between 5.05 and 5.10 runs per game for about 60 games before slowly drifting down below 5. Now, they’ve scored 49 runs over their last seven games. Unsurprisingly, they are 6-1 over those seven games with all of those runs.
Tonight, the Cubs added Jonathan Lucroy to the mix. It’s just one game but the recently released former Angel had a big game in his first as a Cub. He had three hits in five at bats and drove in three runs on top of that. The addition of Lucroy got me to thinking. Including Carlos Gonzalez, who had a cameo this season, the Cubs have now used 17 different players who have been selected as MLB All-Stars. I was surprised to find out that Castellanos was not one of them. Even without him, the Cubs can put together a team of guys who played for the Cubs this year that includes at least one player at every position, four starting pitchers and three relievers. Fun stuff.
Trivia aside, the most important thing is that the Cubs won the first game of their 10 game road trip. One down, nine to go. If the Cubs can deliver one winning road trip, they could really take control of the N.L. Central.
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 115, August 8: Cubs 12, Reds 5 (63-52)
- Superhero: Nicholas Castellanos (.214). Nick had three hits and a walk in five plate appearances. Two of those hits were homers (though no doubles for MLB’s doubles leader). He drove in the two runs and scored three.
- Hero: Tyler Chatwood (.207). Tyler provided the Cubs a huge lift to start the trip by providing three innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Swingman is a hard role. Being able to start, throw multiple innings of relief and sometimes face just a couple of batters, you have to be ready for everything. Tyler has now thrown 57⅓ innings with a 3.92 ERA on the year.
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.182). Happ had two more hits in five at bats. One of those hits was a homer. He drove in four and scored two. Ian has had 36 plate appearances with a line of .333/.444/.667 (wRC+ 185). He’s hit three homers, driven in 10 and scored seven runs. Just projecting his numbers out to a 540 PA sample, you’d have a 45 HR, 150 RBI, 105 R season. Of course, this can’t be sustainable. But it’s a whole lot of fun while it is happening.
- Billy Goat: Cole Hamels (-.344). Cole just didn’t have it in this one. He allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks in just three innings of work.
- Goat: Albert Almora Jr. (-.094). Albert actually ended up with two hits and two runs scored in five at bats. The problem is that while the Cubs were starting to build their lead, he was hitless in three at bats.
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.031). Nine different Cubs had at least one hit. Jason wasn’t one of them. He was hitless in six plate appearances. He did get hit by a pitch and score a run.
WPA Play of the Game: Cole Hamels allowed a two-run homer to Aristides Aquino with one out in the bottom of the third inning after the Cubs had scored four in the top of the third. The homer cut the Cubs lead to 2. (.136) Cole has been adept at avoiding this spot. This is just his second time in the WPA Play of the Game (for perspective, Jose Quintana leads the Cubs with seven negative WPA Plays of the Game, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Yu Darvish all have six, as does Pedro Strop out of the pen).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Castellanos hit a solo homer with two outs in the fourth inning to give the Cubs a 6-5 lead. (.133)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 22.75
- Javier Baez 19.5
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Jason Heyward/!Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Pedro Strop -17.5
Up Next: The Cubs will look for a third straight win to push their season record to a season high 12 games over .500. They’ve won six of seven. They’ve also now won three in a row in the season series against the Reds. Despite the loss in the opener, the Reds have won three of four.
Yu Darvish makes the start for the Cubs. Yu is only 4-5 with a 4.36 ERA in 126 innings on the season. Over his last seven starts he is 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 40⅔ innings. Over that span, he has 52 strikeouts and only four walks. Last time out he pitched well against the Brewers allowing one run over five innings. He allowed five hits and no walks while striking out eight. His one real down spot left is that he’s allowed 23 homers in just 126 innings pitched. Yu has already started three games against the Reds. He has a 1-0 record and has allowed eight runs in 18⅓ innings. Six of those were in one game at Wrigley when the Cubs threw Yu to the wolves to save the pen. Yu is 2-0 against the Reds in four starts as a Cub. Current Reds have 107 plate appearances against Yu with a .757 OPS. Joey Votto leads the way with 19 PA but only has a .551 OPS. Darvish likely won’t be sad to see Derek Dietrich miss the game. In just 13 PA, Derek has two homers and a 1.538 OPS.
The Reds will have Trevor Bauer making his home debut for them. He’s 9-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 161⅓ innings on the year. He’s 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA in his last seven starts, covering 42⅓ innings. Last time out, in his Reds deubt, he allowed three runs over 4⅔ innings in Atlanta. He allowed seven hits and three walks. Trevor has been at his best against the Cubs in the three career starts. He is 3-0 allowing only one run in 19⅔ innings. He’s only held three teams to a lower OPS than the Cubs and no one who he has at least three starts against.
The 28-year-old right-hander has allowed a .627 OPS to right-handed hitters and an .834 against lefties. He’s been a bit better on the road (.667) than at home (.779). Current Cubs have 151 PA against Bauer with a .703 OPS. The huge majority of those at bats are for Castellanos who has a .728 OPS in 52 PA. Anthony Rizzo has two doubles, two singles and two walks in 13 PA against Bauer, good for a 1.138 OPS.
Let’s hope Darvish can continue his recent string of excellent performances and the bats stay hot against a pitcher who has stifled the Cubs.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Jonathan Lucroy (3 H, 5 AB, 3 RBI)
Kris Bryant (3H, 2R, 2 RBI)
Other (Please leave your suggestion in the comments)