Wednesday was the game on paper that most looked like a loss. Wednesday in reality looked like a train-wreck. The Cubs had some pretty decent historical success against Jacob deGrom. If nothing else, they’d done enough to keep games against him close and then win after the game got into the bullpen. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant had hit him hard actually. But, Bryant wasn’t in the lineup, Rizzo was the ONLY Cub player to put a ball in play against deGrom, and the pitching didn’t remotely keep the game close.
deGrom utterly dominated the Cubs through three innings of work before a shoulder issue sadly ended his night early. I was following with fairly rapt attention a game that was getting out of hand quickly. Could deGrom have made a run for 21 strikeouts? How deep would the Mets have let him get into the game given his injury issues this year? If he’d say been perfect through six with 15 strikeouts and was already at 70-80 pitches, how far do you go?
It’s hard to ever say you are rooting for the other guy. But the game was pretty clearly heading for a loss, so I was certainly caught up in potentially following history unfolding. Certainly, deGrom threw three of the best innings a starter ever threw. It would be hard to conclusively top what he did. Which is to include an RBI single along with three perfect innings and those eight strikeouts.
After he left, things didn’t get a ton better for the Cubs. Rizzo pretty quickly put a homer on the board. He’s been slowly finding his power stroke. I guess, if you squint, that would be the long term takeaway for the two teams. Rizzo continues to drift towards the kind of production we see out of him in stretches that can really ignite the offense. For the Mets, they win a key battle against a team they might see in the postseason. But how heavy is the toll? This is at least the third ailment this season for the game’s premier starter. deGrom has been just about untouchable through the first two and a half months of the season. But can they keep him on the field? deGrom represents a puncher’s chance for the Mets. If you have to potentially face that man three times in a seven-game postseason series, you could really be in a lot of trouble. But is he durable enough to do that? That’s going to remain an open question.
In the short term though, this was another dud. This is the frustrating side of the Cubs. They can look good for a week or two at a time. But it always reverts back to this point right here. The offense gets into a funk. They become incapable of stringing together hits to form a rally. All of their runs in this series have come via the home run. On Sunday, they scored two unearned runs that did come through a series of hits. But they’ve scored nine runs in four games and without the long ball, the offense is largely gone. The good news in the very short term is that they’ve gotten through the 3-4-5 part of the rotation. Now it is back to Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies. I told you plenty on Monday about how fantastic the two of them have been. Let’s hope that continues and maybe the team can get back into a positive groove before they get back to those 3-4-5 spots again.,
Now we 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 68, June 16: Mets 6, Cubs 3 (38-30)
- Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.058). 1-4, HR (9), RBI, R, K
- Hero: Javier Baez (.023). 0-3, BB, 2K
- Sidekick: Sergio Alcantara (.007). 1-1
- Billy Goat: Robert Stock (-.305). 4IP (22 batters faced), 4H, 6BB, 5R, 3K, HBP, WP (L 0-1)
- Goat: Eric Sogard (-.062). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Joc Pederson (-.055). 0-4, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Kevin Pillar doubled with a runner on first and no outs in the second inning. That drove in the Mets first run of the night. (.133)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Anthony Rizzo’s one-out homer in the fourth inning cut the deficit to 3-1. (.081)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Rafael Ortega (1-3, HR, HBP)
Tommy Nance (2IP, 6 batters faced)
Up Next: The fourth and final game of the series between these two teams is Thursday night. Oddly, the Cubs can still win the season series with a win. The Cubs were clearly not a good enough team to sweep the Mets in April, but they did. The Mets shouldn’t be a four game sweep better than the Cubs. Hopefully, they aren’t. If Kyle Hendricks can win the finale, the Cubs will have won four of seven against the Mets. After winning the first three, you obviously hope for better. But winning the season series against a good team is a really nice positive. I talked plenty about Hendricks on Monday. The easiest stat right now is that he’s won his last six starts and he has a 2.93 ERA across those six games. He’ll be facing another talented Mets starter in Marcus Stroman. Stroman has a 2.33 ERA on the season. Everything is better than more deGrom, but saying it got easier doesn’t feel quite right.