The Cubs have beat up on the Pirates for two straight days en route to winning their second and third straight games. I can’t stress enough the importance of every one of these games. The Cubs need to keep winning these games against the lesser teams and stay as close as possible to the first-place Cardinals against whom they still have seven games. The Cubs are also creeping closer to the Nationals who are holding the first wild card spot, while trying to hold off a small handful of teams behind them for the second wild card spot.
For the second straight day, the bats carried the load. The Cubs scored early and often again in this one. The Cubs had 14 hits, drew two walks, were hit by four pitches, slugged four homers and two doubles. It was a balanced attack. Seven different Cubs had hits, including five players with two or more. Eight different Cubs scored runs, six different Cubs drove in runs.
On the mound, Kyle Hendricks wasn’t shabby either. Kyle threw six innings. He did allow seven hits, but he didn’t walk anyone. He allowed one runs. He struck out two. Four relievers combined to throw the final three innings, allowing only one hit, one walk, and two hit batsmen.
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 148, September 14: Cubs 14, Pirates 1 (80-68)
- Superhero: Nicholas Castellanos (.221). Nick had two more hits, both doubles. He drove in three and scored two. He was one of four Cubs hit by a pitch. If Nick doesn’t hit 60 doubles, it’s almost entirely going to be because so many of his balls have reached the stands as a Cub. As it is, he has 52 of them. For those wondering, like I was, Nick has the most doubles since Jose Ramirez had 56 of them for the Indians in 2017.
- Hero: Kris Bryant (.145). Kris had three hits in three at bats. One of those was a homer. He drove in four runs and scored one. His next homer will give him 30. That would give the Cubs two players with 30 or more. Anthony Rizzo needs four more, as does Castellanos. Unfortunately, the injured Javier Baez appears to have finished the year with 29.
- Sidekick: Kyle Hendricks (.137). Kyle threw six innings, he allowed seven hits, no walks and one run. He struck out two.
- Billy Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.053). Kyle was hitless in four at bats with one strikeout.
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.051). Willy had exactly the same line.
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.036). Talk about a tough crowd. Jason had a hit, a walk and scored three runs.
WPA Play of the Game: Castellanos batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning. The score was tied at zero. He hit a bases-clearing double. (.247)
*Pirates Play of the Game: With one out and a runner on first in the top of the second inning, Pablo Reyes singled, sending the runner to third. (.090)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 33
- Kris Bryant 32.75
- Kyle Hendricks 17
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12
- Jason Heyward -18
- Pedro Strop -20.5
Up Next: The Cubs will look for the three game series sweep and their fourth straight win overall. The Pirates will look to salvage one win and a little bit of their pride. It will be Jose Quintana going for the Cubs. Jose is 13-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 160⅓ innings on the year. Over his last seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 37⅔ innings. The last time out, the Padres knocked him around pretty good, but he got a no decision anyway. He allowed six runs (four earned) in just three innings of work. He allowed seven hits, struck out one and didn’t walk anyone. He’s faced the Pirates four times this year and he is a perfect 4-0. He has allowed six runs in 27 innings of work. Current Pirates have 136 PA with a .527 OPS, but 26 of those belong to the injured Starling Marte. Josh Bell is next (17, .592). Kevin Newman has had some success (12, 1.000).
Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates. Trevor is 7-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 131⅓ innings. He is 3-2, but has a 6.38 ERA in his last seven starts (36⅔ innings). Last time out, he allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks in just 5⅔ innings. He hasn’t won since his last start in August. He’s started twice against the Cubs, including once head to head against Quintana on July 14. In the two starts, Williams is 1-1, but has allowed 13 runs in just 11 innings of work.
The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a respectable .748 OPS against RHH, but has been clobbered by lefties (.946). He’s actually been a bit better on the road (.796 than at home (.882). Current Cubs have 210 PA with an .871. Kyle Schwarber has the most PA (24, 1.308). Anthony Rizzo has also hit him hard (23, .967).
This looks like another good matchup for the Cubs. They certainly could pull off a much-needed sweep here.
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