I’d like to start out today by wishing everyone out there a happy Father’s Day. Obviously, this is a day to honor all of the fathers of the world for the things that they do. But let’s also thank all of the mothers. For so many reasons, he couldn’t do what he does without you. I think I thought it was trite to say that behind every good man was a good woman until I really had a good woman. And then I understood that saying so much more.
Hopefully, you didn’t tune in today looking for some in-depth baseball analysis or even for my usual putting things into perspective. I don’t have a lot to say about the baseball. There isn’t a lot of way to explain away a 10-run loss. Of course, I can remind you that a 10-run loss counts the same way a one-run loss does. Or I could tell you that I’d much, much rather get blown out then say lose because the bullpen blew one late. In 2021, my new least favorite way to lose is the stupid extra inning rule.
But I’m not going to tell you that this loss is no big deal. Sure, the beauty of baseball is that no single game carries even one percent of the weight of your season. No individual game matters. In the grand scheme of things, losing five of six doesn’t even amount to a whole lot. The Cubs had already done that in the first 10 games of the season. By the 25-game mark in the season, they’d had a five-game losing streak and so depending on how you look at it, they won the game on either side of that, so those were two different points where they’d lost five of six. This is the third time the Cubs have lost five of six using no game more than once for the same streak. Before this streak, the Cubs were sitting with the third-best record in the NL, just two games behind the Giants for the top record.
In a nutshell, the Cubs were twice before able to shake off streaks of bad baseball like this and elevate their game. To me, that’s what a baseball team needs to do. It needs to be gradually improving as the season goes on. In every baseball season, you grind through players. If two thirds of your opening day relievers are around by the end of the season, you did pretty well. Even then, some of them are likely being used differently than they were at the start. You are finding this year’s breakout players. You are fine tuning your rotation.
Of course, sometimes you don’t see. The progress forward isn’t always linear. You might not be playing well in August and September after storming the league in the first portion of the season. But you have to be learning who you want playing a key role when things matter. The Cubs were doing that and there was progress. Even in early June while beating the Padres and Cardinals to jump out to a strong start in June looked a little different than the one in early and mid-May that had such a strong month of May. The team was growing and learning.
For instance: How big will Patrick Wisdom's role be down the stretch of this season? Hopefully, this team will be healthier in September than they are now. With David Bote and Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy available, is there any place for Wisdom? Or was that two-week streak just a flash in the pan? How about guys like Tommy Nance? Is he going to be a piece in the bullpen equation down the stretch? Or was he just a guy to help get us from here to there?
Unfortunately, blowouts like yesterday don’t help you learn much of anything about all of that. Sure, the Cubs were able to rest their key relievers for a second straight game. But unfortunately, they rested them most of the time in New York too. The end result? They looked great closing out the series Thursday night in New York. It sure would be great if the Cubs could win a 5-3 game today and those three could get a little work in closing another win out.
I’m going to close this out today with some words about Heroes and Goats. I often think that the numbers have their own context and I don’t need to explain them. As we tell you every day, the relative positioning of the players in objective. They are placed in numerical order, essentially from top to bottom among every player who played. Then, I cross out any pitcher for batting and any hitter while pitching. With the remaining list, the highest WPA is the Superhero, then Hero, then Sidekick. So on down to the bottom three who are the Billy Goat, Goat and Kid.
The only type of game that makes that process wonky is one that became a blowout very early and never changed. In an early blowout, what happened first is basically where everything freezes and then the whole game is basically worth .000 WPA. So, all of the relief pitchers and all of the players who come off the bench basically notch .000. So today, I’m going to explain some decision making I had to make.
Eric Sogard had a .015 as a hitter. He gets the top spot. So far, so good. Jake Arrieta had a .005. As a hitter. Nope, we have to cross that out. That brings us down to five players at .000. So that gives us a five way tie for the combined Hero and Sidekick spots. Three total points (two for Hero and one for Sidekick) divided five ways for the two spots? That’s pretty messy for my spreadsheet. I’d certainly like to cut that down. But I don’t like to have too much impact (or any) on the overall standings if I can avoid it.
But let’s look at our five way tie. First up? Eric Sogard. Wait a minute, we already saw his name once. Oh yeah, this is Sogard the pitcher. Well, that’ll make a cute photo for this piece, but then we’ve got to eliminate him. Down to four. Four way split of three points still is a little messy if we can avoid it. So who do we have left? Jake Marisnick, Sergio Alcantara and Patrick Wisdom all got into this game and batted once, making an out. For their effort, they all got the three zeroes. I’m certainly not going to be able to split any hairs there. Our other three zero? Nance. Nance pitched a single inning and allowed two runs. Making an out in your only at bat, that certainly doesn’t help the Cubs win. Each of those three hitters put the Cubs one out closer to the inevitable loss. But, Nance allowed two more runs. He dug an even deeper hole.
So while none of the four of them contributed in any way to the Cubs winning or even mounting a little comeback. But we can cross out Nance, I can split three points three ways and order is restored on the overall standings. Kudos to you if you actually read through three paragraphs on how the sausage is made. This stuff is pretty mundane. Thanks for following along.
Now, just to keep things official, I’m going to insert the disclaimer, then we are going to get to the numbers. I already said it above, but I didn’t give you the full paragraph. Even though I’ve broken the rules and done something subjective today. But at least I explained why and how. 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 71, June 19: Marlins 11, Cubs 1 (39-32)
- Superhero: Eric Sogard (.015). 1-3
- Hero/Sidekick: (tie) Jake Marisnick, Sergio Alcantara, Patrick Wisdom (.000). All were 0-1
- Billy Goat: Jake Arrieta (-.354). 3IP (16 batters faced), 6H, 0BB, 6R (4ER), 5K (L 5-8)
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.043). 0-3, DP
- Kid: Joc Pederson (-.030). 0-3, K
WPA Play of the Game: Adam Duvall batted with a runner on third and one out in the first inning. The Marlins were already up 1-0 when he hit his first homer of the day and third of the series. (.116)
*Cubs Play of the Game: (none of the above). Eric Sogard singled with one out in the second. The Cubs were already down 4-0. (.021) Eric was the only one with any meaningful contribution to the game.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Other (seriously, this should be Eric)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +18
- Kris Bryant +14
- Patrick Wisdom +13
- Jason Heyward/PJ Higgins -9.5
- Ian Happ -10
Up Next: Mercifully, the series comes to an end one way or another this afternoon. My selective memory says that the Cubs are pretty good in these Mother’s and Father’s Day games. I’ve got no data to back that up, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Alec Mills is going to make his third start of the year on Sunday. He allowed three runs in 4⅓ innings in his last start against the Mets. David Ross is certainly going to hope he can squeeze at least five innings our of Mills who has never faced the Marlins. Zach Thompson is going to start for the Marlins so that they can give their young ace pitcher Trevor Rogers an extra day off. So that’s a good news/bad news for the Cubs. Rogers is trying to position himself for a possible Cy Young vote or two, particularly if Jacob deGrom succumbs to injury at some point and opens the race for anyone else. Zach Thompson? He doesn’t feel like a lot of reprieve. He has a 2.25 ERA. The Marlins haven’t used him since June 12. Of course, when they did use him he threw five shutout innings against the Braves. So really, go enjoy your Father’s Day with the people you love. Don’t sweat this game too much. For whatever reason, the Marlins just seem to have the Cubs' number.