Many days looking at Heroes and Goats is a bit of a novelty. There isn’t anything too riveting about this series when the game result is 13-4 or 16-4. The graph gets lopsided fast and many plays are exactly .000 WPA. That isn’t true for a game that spent the vast majority of time tied or within a single run. This game had all kinds of momentum swings and key WPA plays.
But before we get to the meat of this one, let’s pull back and look at the bigger picture. Three games is three games. Even if we pull back further and say five games can be a random outlier. We don’t know that this team isn’t as putrid as the one we saw the vast majority of the first three weeks of the year. The one that had me and many, many others who write about this team starting to think about what certain players might fetch via trade.
Instead, the Cubs just swept a team that some believe could reach the World Series and many think will play in the National League Championship Series. Pair that with the split of games Saturday/Sunday with the Braves and you have the Cubs winning four of five from two teams that are expected to be strong contenders in the NL.
In this series, the Cubs won two games that were low-scoring. They relied on fairly steady pitching and even some timely hitting to win those games. In the other win against the Mets and the Saturday win against the Braves, the offense really powered the victory. Though in the Wednesday game against the Mets, even that is a bit misleading. The key inning was a seven run rally that was a combination of singles, walks and defensive miscues by the Mets. There were no extra base hits of any variety.
After looking so bad, the Cubs have found ways to win and have gotten contributions up and down the roster to get it done. I still have to suspect that more of the bad is realistic than the good that comes out of these last few days, but I have to admit to at least the possibility I’m wrong about that.
I do know that a healthy Kris Bryant changes the complexion of the offense. He is, in a relatively small sample size, looking like one of the best hitters in the NL so far this year. Willson Contreras and Bryant near the top of the order are packing a potent punch, and with it the Cubs are starting to at least occasionally put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. With this win, the Cubs reached the break-even point through 18 games. There is an awful lot of baseball to be played. 9-9 through 18 is very much alive, particularly in what might be a weak division.
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 18, April 22: Cubs 4, Mets 3; 10 innings (9-9)
- Superhero: Dan Winkler (.478). IP (4 batters faced), 0H, 2BB, 0R, K, WP (W 1-0)
- Hero: Jake Marisnick (.233). 1-2, 3B, BB, R, K
- Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.169). 1-1, RBI
- Billy Goat: Matt Duffy (-.247). 0-3, HBP, K, DP
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.221). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.128). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Dominic Smith batted with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the 10th. He hit a sharp grounder and the Cubs turned it into a rally-killing double play. (.523)
*Mets Play of the Game: (tie) Kris Bryant was caught stealing with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Also, J.D. Davis batted with a runner on first and one out in the ninth inning when Davis lined a double, scoring a run and tying the game at three.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Craig Kimbrel (IP, 3 batters faced)
Andrew Chafin (1 1⁄3 IP, four batters faced)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Willson Contreras +10.5
- Craig Kimbrel +9
- Dillon Maples +4
- Matt Duffy -4
- Ian Happ -5
- Zach Davies -8
Up Next: The Cubs are right back at it Friday afternoon with a home game against the visiting Brewers. Kyle Hendricks will be looking to get his season into a groove and trying to keep this mini streak for the Cubs going.