I’ve been writing words about the slowly collapsing Cubs since shortly after the All-Star break. I’m sure many of you are about as tired of reading them as I am of typing them. I’m instead going to give it a rest today. The Cubs lost 9-8. The loss was gut-wrenching once again. The team actually managed to take a lead into the ninth inning. That gave them the chance to possibly still salvage a split in this four game set. The division title hopes would still be on life support, but the wild card chances would have some life.
But it didn’t happen. The Cardinals plated two in the ninth. That flipped a one run lead into a one run deficit. The Cubs didn’t rise from the dead in the bottom of the ninth. The fifth straight loss was recorded. The five losses have been by a total of six runs. Ouch.
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 155, September 21: Cubs 8, Cardinals 9 (82-73)
- Superhero: Tony Kemp (.314). Tony hasn’t been particularly good all year long or with the Cubs. But in a very small sample, this is three pretty big hits he’s had off the bench. This time, it was a two-run homer to give the Cubs the lead in the bottom of the seventh.
- Hero: Ian Happ (.229). Ian also had a two-run pinch hit homer earlier in the game. Ian has a line of just .224/.300/.457 after the homer in 130 PA with the MLB club this year. I hope the Cubs give him some playing time over this last week with a lot of the veterans banged up and not a lot left to play for.
- Sidekick: Brad Wieck (.118). Relievers can be a weird thing to project. But it seems like Wieck was a really nice pickup for Carl Edwards Jr. He threw a scoreless eighth inning despite walking one batter and hitting another.
- Billy Goat: Craig Kimbrel (-.649). Craig threw one inning, allowed the game-tying and the go-ahead homers and walked a batter. He did strike out two. Kimbrel has allowed 15 runs in 20⅔ innings as a Cub. This is in large part due to nine homers allowed in that small sample. His homer rate is up to 36% of his flyballs. That adds up to a FIP of 8.01.
- Goat: Jose Quintana (-.307). Jose threw 3⅓ innings and allowed five runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.
- Kid: Kyle Ryan (-.275). Kyle threw a perfect sixth. Of course that wouldn’t land him here. He went back out for the seventh and allowed a walk and a two-run homer to start the inning. One out later he allowed a single and then a double. Fortunately, the Cardinals ran into an out and then Kyle got the third out to escape without further damage.
WPA Play of the Game: Yadier Molina (.342) hit a solo homer to tie the game leading off the ninth inning. Paul DeJong followed with a homer of his own. Also scored at (.342).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Tony Kemp (.314). Kemp’s pinch hit two run homer with one out in the seventh inning gave the Cubs the lead. Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer off of Ryan actually topped this one (.331), giving the Cardinals the three biggest plays of the game.
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 35
- Kris Bryant 34.75
- Kyle Hendricks 16
- Jose Quintana -12.5
- Jason Heyward -20
- Pedro Strop -20.5
Up Next: The Cubs will try to salvage one game in the series, weather permitting. Yu Darvish will be on the mound. Yu is 6-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 170⅓ innings. Over his last seven starts, Yu is 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 44⅓ innings. Last time out, Yu allowed four runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings against the Reds. He struck out 13. Darvish made the first three starts of his career against the Cardinals this year, allowing eight runs in 16 innings of work. Current Cardinals have 92 PA with a .675 OPS against Yu. Paul Goldschmidt has the most PA (17) but only a .529. Marcell Ozuna has a 1.117 in 12 PA.
Miles Mikolas starts for the Cardinals. He is 9-14 with a 4.29 ERA after his amazing season last year. He’s worked 176⅓ innings this year. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA. Last time out, he lost to the Nationals. He allowed three runs in six innings on eight hits and one walk. He struck out four. He has made three starts against the Cubs this year and is 0-2, despite allowing only five runs (four earned) in 16⅔ innings.
The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher has allowed a .735 OPS to RHH and a .792 to LHH. He’s much better at home (.674) than on the road (.858). Current Cubs have a .652 OPS in 168 PA. Jason Heyward has the most PA (21) with a .782. Ian Happ has the highest OPS among Cubs with more than 10 PA (11, .909).
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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