Author’s warning: Before I get into my normal stream of consciousness intro, I’m going to talk about the numbers. A lot of the 2021 season, and actual to my recollection 2020 as well, was kind of paint by numbers in Heroes and Goats. Sure, there was a surprise or two along the way. But when I looked at today’s numbers, I was pretty surprised. I actually went to the Fangraphs numbers after the game to see if today’s Superhero even made one of the three spots. But I absolutely, positively would not have guessed that in a 3-1 game where two of the three runs were homers, neither of them would be in the top three. So keep that in mind when you get to that part. This is a little bit unusual. And to try to save Al from having to note it in the comments, none of the placements are subjective. This is all based on data.
Now for the rambling temperature of the room type stuff. I usually try to give some check in on where I’m at or what felt like an interesting story line from a game. So I’ll tell you where I am. Sunday’s win felt like an important stop the bleeding type game for me. Of course, no game really has too much significance, but after a fantastic May, it seemed awful to potentially have a six losses in seven games trip. So that win Sunday flipped the script. You got that second win and you hoped that maybe you could squeak out a third one. After all, heading west to face two teams that have been in the top three for best record in the NL all year long, winning three of seven was just about the best you could realistically hope for.
So Sunday’s win feels pretty huge to me. For me, the bar would have been set at three wins was a successful trip. They’ve done that. And they’ve done that by going all Gandalf with a “you shall not pass” moment. With their backs to the wall and a possible six-loss trip, their pitching staff held one of the most dynamic offenses in baseball to two runs in 18 innings. As has been the case for so much of the season, a whole host of guys contributed to the two wins in this series. And, though these things don’t matter a whole heck of a lot in June, they moved back into sole possession of first with the Brewers‘ loss to the Reds.
As things continue to rotate in the NL Central, the Cardinals, who spent a good chunk of time on top of the division have now lost eight of 10 and fallen back to third place. The Reds have won seven of 10 and are only a game behind St. Louis. If you thought the Reds were dead and buried, you were wrong.
Let’s turn our attention to the numbers. Before you read further, look back in your memory of Sunday’s game. Think of who the top three were. Even keep in mind that I told you it would be odd. Now let’s go to those 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 62, June 9: Cubs 3 at Padres 1 (35-27)
- Superhero: Ryan Tepera (.187). 2IP (6 batters faced), 0H, 0BB, 0R, 3K
- Hero: Jake Arrieta (.140). 5IP (20 batters faced, 4H, BB, R, 6K
- Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (.126). 1-4, 2K
*** The Cubs won a 3-1 game. The top three via WPA didn’t manage a win, a save, an RBI or a run scored.
- Billy Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.089). 0-3, K, DP
- Goat: Jason Heyward (-.076). 0-3, 2K
- Kid: Jake Marisnick (-.049). 0-1, K
*** Let me go further. The win, the save, the two homers, none of those guys made it onto one of the three Hero spots. But, though not unjustly, the player who batted when the eventual winning run scored finished in the Billy Goat spot.
WPA Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom followed an Ian Happ walk leading off the seventh with a single of his own. That put runners at first and third with nobody out. (.158).
*Padres Play of the Game: Manny Machado batted with a runner on second and one out in the third inning. He singled, driving in the game’s first run. (.102)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Craig Kimbrel (IP, 3 batters faced, SV - 15)
Rex Brothers (IP, 3 batters faced, W 2-0)
Joc Pederson (1-4, HR)
Sergio Alcantara (1-3, HR)
Up Next: The Cubs have their first day off in more than two weeks on Thursday. They’ll next play on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the Cardinals. They are home for just three days before heading back out on the road. The Cubs hadn’t named any starters for the series at posting time for this article.