Baseball can be such an odd game. The Cubs had really been stumbling heading into this weekend series. With the way the pitching matchups lined up on paper, a split seemed optimistic and winning one seemed like it would have been the most likely result. The way it played out, the Cubs have to be pretty disappointed that they didn’t close out a three-game winning streak to finish the weekend.
Regardless, the Cubs slugged their way to another win and continue to have firm control of the NL Central as their August calendar has concluded. They’ll be off Monday before returning to action Tuesday. After the off day, the Cubs will play 14 games in 13 days. All of those games are against NL Central opponents. By the end of it, the Cubs will have largely concluded their in-division games (with only a four-game set at last place Pittsburgh left).
The Cubs outfield crushed a Reds pitching staff that has been fairly stingy this season, particularly Luis Castillo, who had allowed only one homer in 32⅓ innings coming into the game. The Cubs took him deep three times. This is what regression looks like. Castillo had allowed 17.2% HR/FB in 2017 and then 17.9% in both 2018 and 2019. He came into this game at 4.2%. Here’s one more fun fact about the homer barrage this weekend:
Here's another good one: The Cubs hit 14 HR against the Reds in the series, it is their most in a 4-game series in franchise history and T-most HR in franchise history in a series of 4 or fewer games. (ELIAS)— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) August 30, 2020
And that's with 2 games only going 7 innings!
The only blemish on the day was the injury to Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood had looked quite good through two innings and that injury might have prevented the Cubs having two reclamation stories on the day. Chatwood has, aside from one start, been every bit the pitcher the Cubs thought they were signing two plus years ago. The other would be Jason Heyward, who is suddenly one of the better hitters in baseball. With a two-homer, two-walk day, he’s up to a line of .286/.402/.560 (wRC+ 157).
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) 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 34, August 30: Cubs 10, Reds 1 (20-14)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.172). Two solo homers and two walks in five plate appearances.
- Hero: Jose Quintana (.107). Jose is still building back his stamina, but he has to at least be considered for slotting into Chatwood’s spot in the rotation. He threw three innings and allowed two hits, one walk and one run. He struck out six!
- Sidekick: Tyler Chatwood (.101). Tyler threw 2⅓ innings and allowed two hits and nothing else.
- Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.058). Willy had only one walk in five plate appearances.
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.050). Baez had a walk and a run scored in five plate appearances.
- Kid: Jason Kipnis (-.049). Jason was hitless in five at bats and struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game: Ian Happ batted with a runner on first and no outs in the fifth. The Cubs were leading 2-0. He hit his first of two homers. (.118)
*Reds Play of the Game: With runners on second and third and two outs, Luis Castillo coaxed a ground out off the bat of Nico Hoerner, keeping the game scoreless.
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
- Javier Baez -8.5
- Kris Bryant -10
- Willson Contreras -10.5
Up Next: The Cubs begin a three-game set at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Jon Lester makes the start for the Cubs. Chad Kuhl will start for the Pirates. The Pirates are bottom feeders in the NL. Let’s hope the Cubs can go in there and get on a bit of a hot streak ahead of what appears to be a crucial stretch for the Cubs if they are going to hold on and win the NL Central.