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2021 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 36

The Cubs continue to yo-yo through the season

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

After two games in Cleveland, I’m not sure their team can hit much. But I sure wouldn’t sleep on their pitching staff. I suppose I say that with a grain of salt. At best, the Cubs offense is streaky. But, I didn’t really look at the last two days and say that the offense was MIA. They did hit in these games. There were a ton of baserunners throughout both games. The Cubs just couldn’t cash them in. I’m inclined to tip my hat more than a little bit to the Cleveland pitchers for always coming up with a pitch when they needed to.

Of course, the Cubs growing injury issues are decimating any depth this team had. Ildemaro Vargas and Nick Martini really fall more into the category of “break glass in case of emergency” players than guys who should be combining for six plate appearances between them. To Vargas’ credit, he’s come up with a couple of really nice hits in key situations between a whole lot of plate appearances where he looks completely over matched to my eye.

The Cubs centerfield job has apparently become so cursed that if you didn’t see it, even Albert Almora Jr. was injured this week. Seriously, the Cubs have played five different players already in center. Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner and Jake Marisnick have all done so and are all on the injured list. Kris Bryant has spent several games there, he left Tuesday’s game with illness and then when he pinch hit in Wednesday’s game, he was hit on the wrist. Joc Pederson played the game in center, so even though he’s recently recovered from an injury (before he had played any center), I suspect he should be on injury watch.

As the Cubs played yet another one-run game, the frustration builds for Cubs fans. This team is just undermanned. I suspect that was true before any injuries happen, but with each one the situation grows a little worse. Every team is going to deal with injuries over a 162-game schedule, but this certainly feels a little worse than what is ordinary. This too shall pass. The good news is that they’ve stayed in there and competed while short handed. But it sure feels like a bunch of winnable games have gotten away and you always sense that eventually that comes back to bite you when you come up a few games short in the end.

There is lots of baseball to be played and we’ve seen this team get hot already. Too soon to draw any real conclusions. Instead, we’ll get to the numbers. 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. And now, let’s get to the results.

Game 36, May 12: Cleveland 2, Chicago 1 (17-19)

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero: Andrew Chafin (.423). 2IP (6 batters faced), 0H, 0BB, 0R, 2K

*This is the sixth highest WPA game score of the year for the Cubs

  • Hero: Willson Contreras (.228). 4-5, K
  • Sidekick: Justin Steele (.154). ⅔ IP (3 batters faced), 0H, BB, 0R, 2K


  • Billy Goat: Eric Sogard (-.465). 0-5, K

*This is the lowest WPA game score by a Cub this year.

  • Goat: Matt Duffy (-.199). 0-5, 2K
  • Kid: Jason Heyward (-.191). 0-4, BB, 2K

(also of note, Baez -.150, Martini -.141, Vargas -.133. The offense combined has a WPA of -1.015, more or less enough to lose this game twice or something like that).

WPA Play of the Game: Amed Rosario came through with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning against Keegan Thompson. (.339)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Josh Naylor struck out against Andrew Chafin with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. (.207)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Andrew Chafin
    (32 votes)
  • 32%
    Willson Contreras
    (35 votes)
  • 9%
    Justin Steele
    (10 votes)
  • 26%
    Joc Pederson (3-5, RBI)
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
107 votes total Vote Now

Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)

  • Craig Kimbrel +10
  • Jake Marisnick/Kris Bryant +7
  • Ian Happ -7
  • David Bote/Zach Davies -8

Up Next: An off day Thursday before a three-game set begins on Friday in Detroit. Jake Arrieta is expected to come off of the injured list and make the Friday night start. Jake was pitching reasonably well until the thumb injury ruined his last start before his IL stint.