Baseball can be such a weird sport. The Cubs lost three straight to the Pirates with the offense barely mounting a whimper. The Pirates have effectively been the worst team in baseball this year. Then they face a team that appears to be a legitimate contender to represent the American League in the World Series and they win 10-0.
Yu Darvish was fantastic again last night. I fear that the three-start run prior to last night might have been mortal just long enough to cost him a Cy Young, but he should get significant support for that award. He has been sensational this year and a real joy to watch.
The Cubs bats came to play last night. After being last in all of baseball hitting home runs in September, they exploded for five home runs in one game. Dylan Cease made some mistakes and for the first time in a while, the Cubs were crushing mistakes. It was good to see.
One game feels like an oasis in the desert and not any great renaissance. But, I can’t say this enough, that team the Cubs faced last night is a legitimately talented team with a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. That was an impressive victory. You don’t win a playoff series with one win, no matter how awesome it was. But we get a glimpse, yet again, of what this team is still entirely capable of. This team can overpower even a very good team.
With Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs are going to put up a fight in a playoff series. It might not be enough, but having strong starting pitching is a big help. I’m sure I’m not the only Cubs fan dreaming that the Cubs offense will put up a fight. The bats remain a talented and underwhelming group. I’m not sure I’ve ever used both of those words in the same sentence to describe the same thing. It’s certainly a contradiction of terms.
I saw someone ask recently: “If this ends up being the end of the line for this core group of the Cubs, how will you remember them?” My favorite response came from a BCB reader, Brad, who said essentially that this was the golden era of Cubs baseball. That will, of course, be my first memory. The second will be disappointed and perplexed that this offense just never put it all together. We often hear the phrase that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. With this Cubs offense, I’ve been slowly coming to the realization, or at least the perception, that the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
There will be time to canonize all of this at the appropriate time. I don’t believe that we’ve reached the end of the line for this group. But, if we have, we’ll have plenty of time to discuss the ups and the downs of building this group of players. For now, I’m all aboard for wherever this ride is going to take us.
And 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 58, September 25: Cubs 10, White Sox 0 (33-25)
- Superhero: Yu Darvish (.219). The line on the night for Yu was seven innings pitched, three hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.186). Willy had a huge night with two homers, four runs batted in, a walk and three runs scored. He was also hit by a pitch.
- Sidekick: Kyle Schwarber (.106). Kyle hit his first homer in more than three weeks. He had another hit on top of that.
- Billy Goat: Jason Heyward (-.030). JHey had a rough night at the plate with no hits in five at bats.
- Goat: Jason Kipnis (-.027). Kipnis was hitless in four plate appearances. He did draw a walk.
- Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.007). Anthony had one hit in three at bats. He lands down here more or less because someone had to.
WPA Play of the Game: Willson Contreras batted with runners on first and second and two outs in the third inning with the Cubs up 1-0. He hit a three-run homer and the rout was on. (.234)
*White Sox Play of the Game: Willson Contreras grounded into a double play in the first inning to end that inning.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings:
- Yu Darvish 19
- Kyle Hendricks 18
- Jason Heyward 13.5
- Ian Happ 12.5
- Jason Kipnis 9
- Kyle Ryan -7
- Victor Caratini -8
- Anthony Rizzo -8.5
- Kris Bryant -14
- Javier Baez -20
Yu Darvish moves into the top position. He won’t pitch again in the regular season, so he is certainly the leader in the clubhouse leading into the final two games. Kyle Hendricks is unlikely to get a real opportunity to unseat Yu, so he’s unlikely to win his first Heroes and Goats Player of the Year award. Realistically, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ are the only two players with an opportunity to catch Yu. Very likely Yu is going to win the top spot this year.
Those of you who pay a lot of attention to this section will note that we had Willson Contreras exit the bottom five. It’s been a while since someone has left either group. Good for Willson. There are signs of life out of Willy and Anthony Rizzo. Those are two pretty key Cubs bats.
Up Next: The second game of the three-game series. Jon Lester makes the start for the Cubs. Dane Dunning is the starter for the White Sox. I totally get what the oddsmakers see and won’t dismiss it out of hand, but the Sox are a decent favorite. Again, I respect how good this Sox team and I know how impressive Dunning has been. A game between two playoff teams with a rookie starter and a guy who will receive Hall of Fame consideration it’s interesting that the game would be anything other than a toss up.
- Yankees favored over Marlins
- Phillies and Rays largely a toss-up (Phillies likely need to win their remaining two games to get in)
- Twins favored over Reds (keep an eye on this one, the Reds had a couple of significant injuries yesterday)
- Brewers and Cardinals is also largely a toss up (Brewers also likely need to win both of their remaining games to get in)
- Padres and Giants, no early line at the time of this post