It was tempting to use a “the more things change, the more things stay the same” headline. But, while there are situations that call for something like that, this Cubs team is not one of them. The Cubs were a fringy playoff talent type team a few weeks ago. The team they are fielding now might raise an eyebrow in a spring-training game for not sending enough major league talent to an away game. But, with Kyle Hendricks on the mound, this sure felt like things used to be.
Kyle was quite good Saturday night. For his efforts, he picked up his 13th win. I might be the last guy on the planet who cares, but I’m all for chasing milestones and things that will make you be remembered when you are just playing out the string. Of course, we saw one of the ways in which Kyle will be extremely challenged in chasing 20 wins. The bullpen at least flashed the possibility of blowing what was a late five-run lead. The other way that it will be difficult is that this offense is going to eventually struggle to score runs. A lineup with David Bote and Ian Happ in the middle of it in 2021 is just not a good one. And those are two of the guys who actually have an appreciable amount of major league experience.
But, he got it done this time. He’s one step closer. Actually, at this point it isn't going to matter particularly if he makes it to 20, which he probably won’t. 16 or 17 or 18 wins on a team that finishes well below .500 is going to be an accomplishment. And, of course, there’s that part where mostly no one cares about pitcher wins anymore.
Rafael Ortega continues to take advantage of his playing time. A couple more hits, a homer, two runs driven in. Rafael had one of the best nights of his professional career. When you are playing out the string, these are the types of stories you look for. Guys who have put in their time and waited around for hopefully one more chance and then cashing in on it when they get that chance. Good for him. I have no doubt that he’s at least earned himself an invite to spring training somewhere. So he’s bought himself a shot at another year in his career. Living the dream. Go get ’em, Rafael!
Let’s get to those numbers and see what a Cubs win looks like these days. 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 106, July 31: Cubs 6 at Nationals 3 (51-55)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.198). 7IP (28 batters faced), 4H, BB, R, 3K, HBP (W 13-4)
- Hero: Codi Heuer (.190). IP (3 batters faced)
- Sidekick: Rafael Ortega (.154). 2-5, HR (3), 2RBI, 2R, K, SB
- Billy Goat: Rex Brothers (-.203)., 0IP (4 batters faced), 3H, BB, 2R, 0K
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.056). 0-4, BB, 3K
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.039). 1-4, RBI
WPA Play of the Game: Rafael Ortega batted with a runner on third and two outs in the fourth inning against Joe Ross, the Cubs were winning 3-1. Ortega hit a two-run homer to extend the lead to four. (.140)
*Nationals Play of the Game: With the Cubs leading 1-0, Yadiel Hernandez batted with a runner on first and two outs. He doubled, driving in a run to tie the score. (.111)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Patrick Wisdom (2-5, R)
Andrew Romine (2-4, 2B, RBI, R)
Kyle Ryan (IP, 3 batters faced, Sv)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5 bottom 5)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Patrick Wisdom +14
- Nico Hoerner +12
- Kyle Hendricks +10
- David Bote -9
- PJ Higgins -9.5
- Rex Brothers -13.5
- Jake Arrieta -14
- Ian Happ -19
Up Next: The third and final game of this series and the final game in the season series between the Cubs and Nationals. Adbert Alzolay is scheduled to start the Sunday game. 2021 is a learning season for Adbert. To date, he is taking his lumps. He is 4-11 with a 4.73 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Erick Fedde. Eric is 4-7 with a 5.05 ERA. This has the potential to be a high-scoring affair. At least on paper.