On Monday night, the Cubs had to survive some heartfelt reunions and then hold on for victory. They accomplished both of those things. The story, of course, of Monday night was the return of Jon Lester. Even more than that, there was Kyle Schwarber and then there was Dave Martinez. There was also Starlin Castro and if you go into the wayback machine, there were Jim Hickey and Henry Blanco too. This Nationals team has a ton of Cub connection.
Jon Lester could be the most significant signing in Cubs history. In my opinion, he should ultimately be a Hall of Fame player. His numbers aren’t going to pop off of the charts, but I believe going to Boston and winning there and then coming to Chicago and winning there, that should do it for a pitcher who was very good. The stats of modern day pitchers are going to stack up oddly with previous Hall members. But, we’ve seen the Hall adapt. They’ve slowly started to thaw on relief pitchers and I suspect we are seeing the early signs of thawing on designated hitters. We are eventually going to have to have some thawing on modern-day pitchers who won’t have 250 wins, much less 300. Many won’t have 3,000 strikeouts, even though modern hitters strike out at the most prolific rate in history. They won’t have racked up scores of complete games or shutouts or so many other traditionally important numbers. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have value.
Even as I recognize that Lester isn’t the pitcher he once was, I hate that he’s not a Cub. This game was a bit of a tough one for me to watch. I also hate that Kyle Schwarber wasn’t Babe Ruth or whatever either. Nothing would have made me happier than him hitting .275 with 45 homers for the Nationals this year. I wish we’d be wrong on him. Just like I wish Starlin Castro would have continued on his march to 3,000 hits. I about spit out a full mouth of water when Jim Deshaies referred to Starlin as a “hit machine.”
Those guys are just Cub to me. I hate seeing them on another team. But baseball just keeps on going through eras and through hometown heroes. The game generally never stops (the occasional war or global pandemic or labor stoppage not withstanding). It just continues marching on. And so, necessarily it’s important to move on after a player moves on himself (be it his choice or that of the team). The Cubs did that, for better or for worse. And on Monday night, they got the better of this game. The Cubs aggressively attacked Jon Lester, particularly early on, swinging at the first pitch consistently. And it worked. They clubbed three homers off of him and that was enough for the win in this one. And just like that, they evened the record at 20 wins and 20 losses. 20/20 indeed.
All the old familiar faces have me a little misty. So let’s see if we can’t change the subject and turn our attention 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 40, May 17: Cubs 7, Nationals 3 (20-20)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.131). 2-4, HR (4), 3RBI, R, K
- Hero: Ryan Tepera (.106). 1⅓ IP (4 batters faced), 0H, 0BB, 0R, 3K
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.076). 2-4, HR (8), RBI, 2R
- Billy Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.042). 2-3, 2B, SF, RBI, R
- Goat: David Bote (-.040). 0-1, K
- Kid: Matt Duffy (-.003). 1-4, R
WPA Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber batted with a runner on first and no outs in the fourth inning. The Cubs were leading 4-1 at the time. Kyle Schwarber took an Adbert Alzolay pitch out of the park, cutting the deficit to one. (.157)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jason Heyward batted in the second inning with a runner on first and no outs. The Cubs were already leading 1-0 when Heyward took a Lester pitch deep for a two-run homer, giving the Cubs a three run lead.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Kris Bryant +10
- Craig Kimbrel +8
- Jake Marisnick +7
- Jason Adam -6
- Zach Davies -8
- David Bote -9
Up Next: Game two of the four-game set. The Cubs will send Zach Davies to the hill against Patrick Corbin for the Nationals. Davies appears to have taken a pretty significant step forward. It is coming at the right time. It feels like the Cubs have been a deeper, more dynamic team over the last few weeks. They’ll be looking for a fourth win in five tries this evening.