What goes up must come down? After four straight wins, the Cubs were almost certainly going to have a clunker at some point. Unfortunately, it came on a day when the Cardinals were sweeping a doubleheader. Accordingly, the Cubs lost 1½ games in the standings. Not ideal, to say the least.
There were at least a few things that would register as good things. Anthony Rizzo returned to the lineup and had two hits. Cole Hamels pitched okay. He allowed two runs on five hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out seven. The Cubs bullpen pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only three hits.
Not a lot of positive in this one beyond those things. From a WPA perspective, the only two hitters who produced positive value were Anthony Rizzo (.005) and Cole Hamels (.030), the hitter. The Cubs managed six hits and two walks. However, the Cubs stranded all eight base-runners they had in the game.
Entering September, the Cubs have 28 games remaining and a 2½-game deficit in the division. Rosters expand beginning with today’s game. The Cubs are likely going to have to be better in September than they have been in any month this year.
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 135, August 31: Cubs 0, Brewers 2 (73-62)
- Superhero: Kyle Ryan (.033). Kyle faced four batters in the seventh inning and allowed only a lead-off double.
- Hero/Goat (tie): Cole Hamels/Brandon Kintzler (.027). Cole threw six innings and allowed five hits, three walks and two runs. Brandon threw a perfect seventh inning.
- Billy Goat: Addison Russell (-.173). Addison was hitless in four at bats. He lands here due to making the third out with the bases loaded in the sixth (-.118).
- Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.125). Kyle actually had one hit in the four at bats. He made the second out of that sixth inning with two on (-.072).
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.114). Jason was hitless in four at bats with one strikeout.
WPA Play of the Game: Many Pina batted with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning. He had a two-run single. (.123)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 34
- Kris Bryant 29.75
- Kyle Hendricks 13
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Jason Heyward -16
- Pedro Strop -20.5
Up Next: The teams have split the first two games of the series and each will be seeking a series win. Yu Darvish will be on the mound for the Cubs. Yu is 5-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 152⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 43⅓ innings. He won his last start in New York. He threw eight innings, allowed one run on five hits and one walk. He struck out seven. He won his last start against the Brewers. In that one, he allowed one runs in five innings on five hits. He walked none and struck out eight. Current Brewers have 110 PA against Darvish with a .617 OPS. Christian Yelich has two homers in just 12 PA (1.317).
The Brewers start Gio Gonzalez. Gio is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 64⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts, he is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 33⅓ innings. He lost the last start he made, allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits. He walked four and struck out five. That was his second start in six days against the Cardinals. He’s faced the Cubs three times this year and he’s 1-0 with just three runs allowed in 16⅓ innings.
The 33-year-old lefthander has allowed a .860 OPS against righthanded batters. He’s stifled lefties though with a .453. He’s been about the same on the home (.773) and on the road (.764). Current Cubs have 229 PA with a .630 OPS. Jason Heyward (48 PA, .429) and Anthony Rizzo (24, .315) have both struggled significantly against Gio.
This will be another tough one for the Cubs. Hopefully, Darvish can get them another key win in this one.
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