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2020 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Games 23 and 24

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Cubs split doubleheader; take three of five in series

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It was another mixed day for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They lost the first game after the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead with four in the first. The Cardinals went on to win comfortably, 9-3. In the second game, Adbert Alzolay made his season debut and he looked good. The Cardinals tied the game up late off of Jeremy Jeffress, which took a win away from Alzolay (and gave it Jeffress), but that doesn’t take away his encouraging performance.

Nor does it take away from Craig Kimbrel throwing a scoreless ninth, striking out three around a hit batter. That makes three straight strong performances from Kimbrel. His curve is hitting the zone more now and that’s going to make it a bit more difficult to just lay off of that pitch. His velocity is also climbing and it appears that he’s back at or very close to the top of his range. Many said it, an effective Kimbrel totally changes the complexion of this bullpen and this team. Of course, it takes more than three good outings to make everybody comfortable. But we can at least hope that he’s moving in the right direction.

The Cubs strategy of getting the starter out of the game by running up his pitch count continues to work. Both Cardinal starters were gone relatively early yesterday. Alas, very much like the Brewers series, the Cubs weren’t able to execute the second part of their strategy, doing damage to the bullpen. Teams that can throw talented reliever after talented reliever against the Cubs are going to be a challenge. Of course, it isn’t just the Cubs that feast on second tier starters and relievers. That’s where most players and most teams pile up their numbers.

Forty percent of this shortened season is now over. The Cubs have a four game lead on the NL Central. They sit one game behind the Dodgers for the best record in the league. Few expected that. The Cubs now get a much needed off day before a weekend series with the crosstown White Sox. There is at least a chance that the Cubs get Kris Bryant back for that series. A healthy, productive Bryant will always make the Cubs a better team. Let’s hope that when he returns to the field he is able to be that player.

With that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s games 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) 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. With that, let’s get to the results.

Game 23, August 19: Cardinals 9, Cubs 3 (15-8)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Willson Contreras (.052). Two plate appearances, two walks.
  • Hero: Nico Hoerner (-.023). Nico lands here because he was hit by a pitch with runners on first and second. He was hitless in the other two at bats.
  • Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.002). One walk in two plate appearances.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Alec Mills (-.352). Mills lasted 3⅔ innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and six runs. He struck out one.
  • Goat/Kid: Anthony Rizzo and Victor Caratini (-.056). Each was hitless in three at bats.

WPA Play of the Game: Matt Carpenter faced Mills with the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning. He hit a grand slam. (.178)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Ian Happ led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer. (.072)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Willson Contreras
    (13 votes)
  • 57%
    Ian Happ
    (48 votes)
  • 16%
    Josh Phegley
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    Other
    (8 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now

Game 24, August 19: Cubs 4, Cardinals 2 (16-8)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Adbert Alzolay (.216). Five innings pitched, two hits, one walk, six strikeouts. No earned runs. I’d definitely like to see more of Alzolay in some capacity.
  • Hero: Willson Contreras (.171). Willson had a hit and a walk in three plate appearances. He scored twice.
  • Sidekick: Kyle Schwarber (.169). Schwarber also had a hit and a walk and scored a run in three plate appearances. He added a very nice defensive play (though that doesn’t effect WPA).

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Jeremy Jeffress (-.201). One inning, one hit, two walks, one earned run.
  • Goat: Jason Heyward (.189). Hitless in three at bats with two strikeouts.
  • Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.095). Hitless in three at bats.

WPA Play of the Game: Brad Miller (who else?) continued his torrid series with a two-out RBI-single to tie the game off of Jeffress in the sixth inning. (.308)

*Cubs Play of the Game: David Bote singled with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning driving in two runs. This number would have been a bit higher but for Nico Hoerner’s attempt to get to third on the throw home. (.203)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Adbert Alzolay
    (77 votes)
  • 0%
    Willson Contreras
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (2 votes)
  • 31%
    David Bote
    (43 votes)
  • 0%
    Nico Hoerner
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    Craig Kimbrel
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Victor Caratini
    (0 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now

Up Next: The Cubs open a three-game set with the crosstown White Sox on Friday night after a much needed off day. The Sox do play on Thursday, though they are home so no travel is involved. Jon Lester is scheduled to face Dallas Keuchel in what should be a very good matchup.