Nico Hoerner has come back to the big leagues like a guy who never, ever wants to ride a bus again. None of us questioned that his glove was ready for the big club, but the question was always going to be if he could produce enough offense to be a starter and not a slick glove off the bench. Nico has hit .375 and drawn seven walks in 10 games since being called up to replace an injured Joc Pederson. I’m only half kidding when I say that Joc is getting Wally Pipp-ed.
If this season goes south, the performance of guys like Hoerner and Adbert Alzolay are going to be the most important players in this season. You’d love to see a couple of young, cost-controlled players come up and make contributions to be part of the next core of players for the next really good Cubs team. Young, internally produced talent is generally at the core of any good team that makes an extended run.
Having a farm system that produces gives you so many options and gives you some latitude when building a team. If you do go the free agency route, A) you can afford to miss once or twice and B) you can really target a specific need or two if you do look at free agency.
The core of the previous competitive team is reaching the point in their respective careers where they are no longer controlled cheaply. Of course, if Alzolay and Hoerner, among other young players, can make significant contributions, then maybe there is at least a glimmer of hope that this group can make one more decent run. The old adage is that you can’t win a division in April, but you can definitely lose it. The Cubs weren’t anywhere near winning one, but at 11-15 after the season’s first month, the team certainly wasn’t out of it either. It’s going to take a lot more wins like Saturday’s, but it was a nice step in the right direction.
With just the slightest bit of optimism creeping in after a win, 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 27, May 1: Cubs 3 at Reds 2 (12-15)
- Superhero: Nico Hoerner (.212). 3-3, 2B, BB, RBI, R, SB
- Hero: Craig Kimbrel (.201). IP (5 batters faced), 2H, 0BB, 0R, 2K (Sv 5)
- Sidekick: Andrew Chafin (.172). 1⅓ IP (4 batters faced), 0H, 0BB, 0R, 1K
- Billy Goat: Kris Bryant (-.115). 0-4, 2K
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.100). 1-4, SB, K
- Kid: David Bote (-.076). 1-4, 2B, R, SB
WPA Play of the Game: With a runner on first and no outs in the ninth inning, the Cubs leading 3-2, Tucker Barnhart faced Craig Kimbrel. Barnhart won the exchange, lacing a single, putting runners at the corners with nobody out in a one-run game. (.326)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Tyler Naquin batted against Kimbrel one out later (a strikeout) with runners still on the corners in a one-run game. Kimbrel recorded a second straight strikeout on his way to escaping a jam. (.259)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Rex Brothers (3 batters, 3K, W)
Cubs bullpen as a whole (5 innings, 18 batters, 2H, 0BB, 1HBP, 0R, 8K)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +11
- Jake Marisnick +7
- Adbert Alzolay/Dillon Maples +4
- Jason Adam/David Bote -6
- Ian Happ -10
- Zach Davies -11
Up Next: The third and final game of the series on Sunday afternoon. Trevor Williams is set to start for the Cubs as they try to pick up a series win.