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2021 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 119

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Cubs rally late but unable to hold the lead in a 5-4 loss

Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Thanks to a very good bullpen before the selloff, this is the sort of game we haven’t really seen this year, in which the Cubs led very late and ended up losing. Obviously, at 15 games under .500, we’ve seen them lose plenty. But the general story is that they fall behind early and then don’t challenge. But this time, they put together an eighth-inning rally only to give it right back in the bottom of the inning and go on to lose.

You certainly don’t want to read too much into the things that happen as this season gets more and more out of hand. Yeah, it’s frustrating that the guy who coughed up the lead is one of the guys you got in your deadline deals, one who you up will be a leverage reliever whenever this team is good again. Part of being a very good reliever comes from nights like this. One, you have to learn how to put this behind you. When you are almost always pitching with the game on the line, every mistake amplifies, even when it’s not your own. Second, you learn from the mistakes and what you need to be doing the next time. From the Cubs perspective, you want to see how Codi Heuer reacts to this, what he does to be better the next time.

From a WPA perspective, games don’t get a lot wilder than this one. Frank Schwindel had a two-out, three-run double in the top of the eighth with the Cubs down two. That gave them the lead. For his efforts, he notches a WPA game score of .559. That’s the third highest number this year (Matt Duffy, .768 on 5/5 and Ian Happ, .634 on 7/20). Codi Heuer allowed two runs in the bottom of the inning. He notched a -.565 WPA game score. That’s the second lowest score of the year. Teammate Willson Contreras could tell him a little bit about rough games. He had the worst score of the year (-.735 on 5/5). Craig Kimbrel is certainly the greatest active closer. He has the third worst score of the year for the Cubs (-.551 on 5/15).

These things happen. The problem of course is that they just keep happening. This season is becoming like Groundhog Day. A sort of reoccurring nightmare where you know it’s going to end bad, you just don’t know how and when the bad comes. Even the best first round picks generally take a few years to reach the major leagues and so it is little consolation that the Cubs are starting to reach the pack. They haven’t started moving down past the 10th pick yet, but they had a long way to go to catch a lot of the teams. They’ve now reached a whole pack of teams just below them. It’s no fun, but if you are going to be bad, you might as well be real bad.

Let’s go to the numbers. The Cubs only had four players post a positive WPA score in this one, so there was a lot of competition at the bottom. 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 119, August 14: Marlins 5, Cubs 4 (52-67)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Frank Schwindel (.559). 1-4, 2B, 3RBI, K
  • Hero: Matt Duffy (.034). 1-1, R
  • Sidekick: Rafael Ortega (.024). 1-3, BB, 2B, 2R

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Codi Heuer (-.565). IP (7 batters faced), 2H, 2R, K (L 4-2)
  • Goat: Zach Davies (-.173). 6IP (24 batters faced), 4H, BB, 3R (0ER), 7K
  • Kid: David Bote (-.119). 0-4, K

WPA Play of the Game: Frank Schwindel’s base-clearing double in the eighth. (.629)

*Marlins Play of the Game: Brian Anderson batted with runners on second and third and two outs in the sixth inning, the Cubs leading by one. He hit a three-run homer to give the Marlins the lead. (.440)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Frank Schwindel
    (53 votes)
  • 1%
    Matt Duffy
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Rafael Ortega
    (1 vote)
  • 14%
    Other
    (9 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)

  • Kris Bryant +26
  • Rafael Ortega +22 (+1)
  • Craig Kimbrel +20
  • Patrick Wisdom +14
  • *Nico Hoerner +12
  • *PJ Higgins -9.5
  • Zach Davies -11 (-2)
  • Rex Brothers -11.5
  • Jake Arrieta -19
  • Ian Happ -23

Up Next: The third and final game between these two clubs is Sunday afternoon in Miami. Alec Mills (5-4, 4.27) will start for the Cubs. The Marlins hadn’t announced a starter at the time I was writing this, but it looks like they might activate Elieser Hernandez to make the start. He only has 33 innings at the big-league level the last two years in part due to injuries. He had some intriguing numbers back in 2019.