The good news so far on the Cubs‘ trip to the West Coast is that they’ve seen injured regular Jason Heyward and semi-regular Jake Marisnick return to the lineup. Assuming Javier Baez’ injuries only end up having him down for a couple of days and not requiring his own IL stint, and that whatever happened with Adbert Alzolay last night isn’t serious, the Cubs’ overall health level is starting to improve. The Cubs did quite well in May despite a rash of injuries, often to key players.
The bad news is that they’ve now lost four of the first five games on their trip west and still have Yu Darvish on the agenda, which is not to look past tonight’s starter Dinelson Lamet who is a pretty talented pitcher in his own right (and who is still also being limited due to his own past injuries). It’s starting to look like if the Cubs return home with two wins in the bag, that was a pretty good outcome for the trip.
While on the surface, that is a depressing outcome, it was at least predictable. The Giants and Padres have been two of the better teams in baseball through most of this season. If we were following poker and blackjack, I’d explain a lot of math to you about the concept of “due.” With sports, I’m a little torn on that. Just because you won the last 10 games, doesn’t mean you are due to lose today. Of course, the actual concept is that if you are team that is going to win about 85 games, then you are eventually going to win games at about a .525 clip. Because that’s the way math works.
So you aren’t precisely “due.” If you watch enough baseball, or any sport play out. Some teams that are roughly at an 85-win talent level go on a long winning streak and then balance that somewhere with a stretch of losing. But sometimes, you have the month the Cubs did in May and that 85-win talent level just goes and wins 92 games because they overachieved for a month. Nothing is ever sent in stone and sometimes you just overachieve.
We can’t know yet if this team will end up overachieving what appears to be its talent level. There are so many variables including what they and other teams do at the All-Star break as far as trading. As mentioned at the top of this piece, health is another huge component. All of that said, my point ends up being that a team that probably overachieved its talent level in May, particularly one that was injured, heading out on a long trip to play two very good teams, was one ripe to run into some turbulence.
None of this has been shocking or even really surprising. I’m having trouble even registering much disappointment. It’s more or less what I expected to happen. Your mileage may vary and certainly we all probably hoped they might sneak out with at least three or four wins (and of course three is still possible). But this feels an awful lot like a “they are who we thought they were” moment.
That’s probably enough existentialism for one day. Let’s go look at 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 60, June 8: Padres 9, Cubs 4 (33-27)
- Superhero: Jake Marisnick (.127). 2-4, RBI
- Hero: Rex Brothers (.077). IP (2 batters faced!), K
- Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (.035). 0-2, 2BB, R, 2K
- Billy Goat: Adbert Alzolay (-.274). 3IP (19 batters faced), 5H, 5BB, 4R, 4K, BK (L 4-5)
- Goat: Keegan Thompson (-.111). 2IP (10 batters faced), H, 2BB, 2R, 3K, 2WP
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.088). 0-4, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: With two outs and a runner on first in the third inning, the Padres were already winning 2-0 when Brian O’Grady hit a two-run homer off of Adbert Alzolay. (.135)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jake Marisnick batted with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning with the Cubs down four. In that situation, you aren’t looking for a ground ball anywhere, much less to the pitcher. But it was in just the right spot and then an infield hit ended up combined with a wild throw and ended up with two runs. (.110)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Anthony Rizzo (2-4, R)
Up Next: Game two of the three-game set in San Diego is Tuesday night. The Cubs are scheduled to send Zach Davies to the mound. Despite getting roughed up a little bit in his last outing, Zach has a 2.52 ERA over his last seven starts covering 35⅔ innings. The downside is that he has a 6.75 ERA on the road so far this year. The Cubs could really use a big start from Zach in this one. Ideally, the Cubs would win this one and have two wins on this trip before they have to deal with Yu Darvish in the series finale.