The first two weeks of this Cubs season have become a broken record. There is only so much anyone can write about when the games pretty much all play out identically. The Cubs only mustered four hits. Jake Arrieta didn’t pitch terribly, but with no offense behind him, every mistake was amplified. The game completely unraveled in a high-scoring inning.
Right now, that is seemingly the story of every single game. Tuesday night’s game was like an oasis in the desert with a dramatic late home run snatching a victory from the jaws of defeat. But this road trip was like a reoccurring nightmare for this Cubs team. We can only hope a day off and coming back home will be the elixir that the team is in need of. Otherwise, this is going to get ugly fast.
Don’t think these veteran Cubs don’t know the stakes. Not only have they played games that were meaningful for nearly every single game dating back to 2015, but they understand how soon they could be broken up. Nearly every contract on this Cubs team is an expiring one. Accordingly, if this team falls well off of the pace, all of them could potentially be traded. Of course, not literally all of them. But individually, it’s hard to imagine a player on this roster who couldn’t be traded if the scenario were right.
Does the executioner’s axe motivate or does it cause them to be tighter and tighter as this thing progresses? Some people have a capacity to rise above when backed into a wall. But some people get angry and angsty and under perform in those situations. There is some potential that this gets ugly bad.
I will forever wish that this front office had proactively tried to add pieces and change the equation in a meaningful way over time. When I think back to the largest part of my baseball fandom, I think of the 1990s. In the 90s, at different times, the Yankees, Braves and Indians all had long runs of sustained good play. I recall all three teams evolving over time. Sure, there is a core that can be traced through each, but also they were always adding and changing and sometimes a key piece or two was sent away even while they were still productive. As I write this, I’m reminded that David Justice played for all three of those teams. He just missed playing for all three during that decade, joining the Yankees in 2000. But that’s the point, he was traded while still a star.
Those teams tinkered on their own terms. This one may be backed into a corner where there is little to do except for trade a good number of these expiring contracts and to try to restock the minors. Of course, this team was built through trades of expiring contracts. Can the front office do it again with Theo Epstein, among others, no longer being part of the front office? Only time will tell.
With that, we’ll turn our attention to Heroes and Goats. As you’ll recall, 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 12, April 14: Brewers 7, Cubs 0 (5-7)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.080). 2-3, 2B
- Hero: Joc Pederson (.017). 0-3, HBP, K
- Sidekick: Dillon Maples (.001). 2IP (9 batters faced), 1H, 2BB, 0R, 4K
- Billy Goat: Jake Arrieta (-.128). 5IP (21 batters faced), 4H, 1BB, 3R, 5K (L 2-1)
- Goat: David Bote (-.104). 0-4, K
- Kid: Austin Romine (-.077). 0-3, K
WPA Play of the Game: Jason Heyward batted with a runner on first and one out in the top of the second. The Brewers were already up 2-0. He doubled, giving the Cubs a strong scoring chance. (.088)
*Brewers Play of the Game: The Cubs died by a million paper cuts, rather than one decisive blow. And so it is that the Brewers dominated this game but didn’t have a particularly key play. Their top scoring WPA was Travis Shaw in the bottom of the second. His solo home run with two outs made it 3-0. (.083)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
None of the above
Up Next: The Cubs are off Thursday, then host the Braves for the first of a three-game set. It won’t be quite as cold, but a late April set with the Braves will bring back memories of one of the wildest comebacks the Cubs have ever made at Wrigley Field, in April 2018. That one ended up 14-10 and featured a nine-run inning for the Cubs. Boy, how much the Cubs could use one of those. The Cubs will be home for nine games, three each against the Braves, Mets and Brewers. Zach Davies is the probable starter in the opener of the homestand.