We’ve reached the point where there isn’t a lot left to say. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I can only write so many times about how the competitive part of this season is over. We’ve sort of exited the train wreck. I mean, it’s hard to call a bottom when the losing still persists. But at this point, there isn’t any question which way the Cubs are going at the trade deadline. There are only two remaining questions. Who goes? And what do the returns look like?
In a nutshell, can the front office snag enough talent for this to be a short rebuild? Or are we all of the way back at 2012, staring at the early part of a rebuild that might take a handful of years. Certainly, we’ve seen a number of young pitchers get a chance on this club and by and large, they’ve contributed. To be clear, they aren’t (with the exception of Adbert Alzolay), the type of guys you dream on as cornerstones of the next championship contending Cubs team. But there are certainly a handful of guys who you could see contributing, particularly out of the bullpen.
So much now is about identifying the right thing for Nico Hoerner and Sergio Alcántara each day. What path gives them the highest probability of the most development? For Hoerner, that’s almost certainly almost everyday playing time at the major league level, either at short or second. For Alcántara, that might be starting every day in Iowa. There are players in Iowa who can be placeholders if you need a warm body to finish out the season either for the big league club or as they have been in the minors. But right now, development is king. We haven’t been in this place in a long time.
The Cubs have missed the playoffs once since 2015, but even that season (2019), they were in the race all of the way till the end. This is the first time in a long time this organization will be selling at the deadline. Some of these Cubs players really haven’t experienced this first hand. I’m sure some part of that realization is playing a part in this stretch, Certainly, the team looks to be pressing. With every at bat feeling like it needs to be a grand slam and every pitch feeling like it needs to be a strikeout.
At some point, this is going to cross over. They’ll make that first trade. It’ll be ever so clear that they are throwing in the towel. At some point, these guys will relax and have a little more fun. Willson Contreras to my eye looks like a guy who hasn’t had any fun at all. Javier Baez increasingly looks like a guy not having a whole lot of fun. I don’t blame either or any of them. This is tough. Losing sucks. Knowing that some of the people who you’ve been shoulder to shoulder with for years will be gone some day soon, it has to feel like a gut punch. It all has to feel all the worse because in May this team was so good. It’s unusual for a team to be able to produce a mirage for that long. But this one apparently did.
Let’s take a look at the numbers from Sunday’s game. 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 84, July 4: Reds 3, Cubs 2 (42-42)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.295). 6 innings pitched (23 batters faced), 5H, 0BB, 1R, 5K
- Hero: Javier Baez (.170). 2-4, RBI, SB
- Sidekick: Eric Sogard (.110). 1-1
- Billy Goat: Dan Winkler (-.371). ⅓ IP (5 batters faced), 2H, 0BB, 2R, 0K, 2HBP (L 1-1)
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.328). 2-5, DP
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.158). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With two on and one out in the ninth inning, the Cubs trailing by one, Willson Contreras stepped to the plate. He grounded into a game ending double play. (.283)
*Cubs Play of the Game: In a similar situation in the fifth inning, the Cubs up by one, Kyle Hendricks got Jesse Winker to ground into a double play. (.133)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +18
- Kris Bryant +15
- Patrick Wisdom +13
- PJ Higgins/Eric Sogard -9.5
- Jake Arrieta -11
Up Next: The Cubs return home on Monday to start a four game series with the Phillies. Zach Davies will be on the hill. Zach is 5-5 with a 4.32 ERA. He’ll be facing Matt Moore who is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA. This is the best matchup on paper for the Cubs in the series. Matchups aren’t the be all-end all of predicting games. Weird things can and do happen, but you certainly hope the Cubs can stop the skid on Monday night.