The Cubs played two more games on Saturday. Good, tight baseball throughout. The first game saw a match-up of two of the best pitchers in baseball this year. The Cubs got the better of that one behind another very good performance from Yu Darvish. He had to work out of trouble repeatedly against a pesky Reds lineup. But, he kept them off of the board and the Cubs rode that performance to victory. Well, that and two Anthony Rizzo homers.
Rizzo has had his struggles this year, as he does every year at times. But, he’s found ways to contribute, as he always does. Hitting two homers off of Trevor Bauer was a huge part of the victory in Game 1. Long after he is gone, one of the things I will remember about Rizzo is exactly that. He finds ways to contribute. Some guys go into a slump and completely disappear. Anthony contributes with his glove, he contributes with his leadership, he gets on base and he comes up with a lot of big hits. Things haven’t clicked for him this year, but I still wouldn’t bet against him going on a tear and getting his numbers closer to his career numbers.
In the second game, Alec Mills had trouble with the long ball. Mills is such a great story and it’s really hard not to root for the guy. But, it might be closing in on time to look at another option for his spot in the rotation. For a bit, the second game looked like one that the Reds might win in blowout fashion. But, the Cubs battled back and took the lead to the decisive seventh inning. It’s always hard to look at one pitcher to close out two wins on the same day. So bringing back Jeremy Jeffress who had closed out Game 1 would have been a tough call to make both long and short term. You worry that he would be effective three hours between appearances. You also worry that he could get injured.
And so it was that the Cubs went with former closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel remains one of the best closers in baseball history. He also remains a spectacularly talented but unquestionable disaster signing for the Cubs. His stuff is clearly still there and so it is possible that when the final chapter is written that the ending will be different. But so far, it just hasn’t worked out. The wild pitch that ended the game is probably a ball that Willson Contreras should have stopped. But, that whole jam was a mess of Kimbrel’s creation.
Two games leave the schedule. The Cubs remain in control of the NL Central. The Cardinals lost their game, the Brewers won theirs. So there was no real harm done to the Cubs lead in the division. They will enter the final month of the season with a lead. We’ve certainly seen this script before and we’ve certainly seen some different endings. You certainly would have hoped that they would have ran away and hid with the division lead once they got it. They didn’t, but they are still in the driver’s seat. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take it. In what has been a miserable real life year, some Cubs playoff baseball is at least something to look forward to.
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 32, August 29: Cubs 3, Reds 0 (19-13)
- Superhero: Yu Darvish (.420). Yu throws six scoreless innings. He allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out eight.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.166). Two solo homers provided the bulk of the Cubs offense.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.074). The Cubs only had four hits in the game. Contreras had one of them and he lands here.
- Billy Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.068). Hitless in three at bats.
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.061). Hitless in three at bats.
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.048). The “Three-H” club had a combined nine hitless at bats. Jason Heyward lands in this spot because he drove in a run.
WPA Play of the Game: With two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning with the Cubs leading 2-0, Yu Darvish got Freddy Galvis to ground out to third to end the inning. (.136)
*Reds Play of the Game: A few batters earlier, Nick Castellanos singled with a runner on first and one out. (.103)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Game 33, August 29: Reds 6, Cubs 5 (19-14)
- Superhero: Ian Happ (.334). Happ bounced back in the second game with a two hits, including a homer, and a walk, scored a run, drove in two.
- Hero: David Bote (.250). David produced the same line. Two hits, including a homer, a walk, a run, and two RBI.
- Sidekick: Rowan Wick (.149). Wick threw a scoreless sixth inning with the Cubs leading 5-4. He did allow a hit but struck out two.
- Billy Goat: Craig Kimbrel (-.783). Let’s hope this is the worst WPA score of the year for the Cubs. Kimbrel was handed that one run lead in the ninth inning. He did strike out two batters. But he also walked three, threw a couple of wild pitches, allowed a single and all together, that yielded two runs and a very disappointing Cubs loss.
- Goat: Alec Mills (-.279). Mills’ stuff doesn’t seem to play very well if a guy gets two or three plate appearances against him. He allowed three homers and four runs in just three innings of work.
- Kid: Kyle Schwarber (-.221). Hitless in four at bats and left several runners on base (not that he was alone in that).
WPA Play of the Game: Aristides Aquino singled off of Craig Kimbrel with one out and runners on first and second to tie the game at five. (.366)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With one out in the fifth inning, Ian Happ faced Michael Lorenzen with a runner on second and the Cubs trailing 4-3. Happ doubled to tie the score. (.183)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Yu Darvish 15
- Ian Happ 12
- Kyle Schwarber 9
- Victor Caratini, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo -7.5
- Kris Bryant -10
Up Next: The final game of this four game set is this afternoon. Tyler Chatwood makes the start for the Cubs. He’ll be looking to recapture his early season magic when it looked like he had turned things around. He’ll be facing the always tough Luis Castillo. The odds-makers see this one as going in the Reds direction. Let’s hope the Cubs can steal one and leave town on a bit of a high note.