Be still, my beating heart. The Cubs have won two in a row. If you are a Reds fan, this series had to be awfully frustrating. The Reds have been hovering on the periphery of the NL playoff race. They were probably always a bit of a longshot, but losing two straight to the previously collapsing Cubs team can’t feel good right about now.
It’s things like the last two days that have historically made me think long and hard about focusing a team on development of pitching. The Cubs have held the Reds to two runs over two days and in a totally shocking development, they won two games in a row. Today’s starter Adrian Sampson hadn’t had much success in the past at the big league level, but he held the Reds to one run over four innings and then the bullpen threw five scoreless in a formula that was very successful for this team until mid-June.
Of course, trying to develop pitchers is beyond an inexact science. Don’t get me wrong, teams know exactly how to identify guys who can throw hard and who have good stuff. That part is pure science. We’ve seen the Cubs get better and better at teaching guys how to disguise their pitches to increase their effectiveness. So there is plenty of science to developing pitching. But keeping pitchers healthy? I wouldn’t chalk that up to just luck. But there certainly is at least some element of luck or fortuitousness in developing pitching and keeping it healthy. To say the least, developing hitting is safer. But that can never diminish that when pitchers are executing their plan, even a very good offensive team like this Reds team can crumble.
Don’t dismiss, either, the comments made by Sampson after the game. He talked about not much being guaranteed for anyone in 2022 and guys recognizing that they have an opportunity. If you were going to reduce the entire current Cubs roster to a single profile that was as descriptive of the group as possible you’d say that they were an older player without a ton of major league experience. These are guys who by and large have gotten less time at the major league level than most of them had hoped and dreamed about having at this point in life. Some of these guys surely had to wonder if the game was passing them by and if they would ever get a significant opportunity to make a splash at the major league level.
So we have some guys playing loose and trying to run with this opportunity. Some like Rafael Ortega, Patrick Wisdom and more recently, Frank Schwindel have really burst onto the scene and had, particularly in the first two cases, had extended stretches of productivity. Even in an awful season, some of this is really fun to follow.
Let’s go to 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 123, August 18: Cubs 7 at Reds 1 (54-69)
- Superhero: Adrian Sampson (.120). 4IP (17 batters faced), 5H, 1R, 2K
- Hero: Michael Hermosillo (.113). 1-3, HR (1), HBP, 2RBI, R, K, DP
- Sidekick: Manuel Rodriguez (.068). 2IP (7 batters faced), BB, 3K (W 1-2)
- Billy Goat: Robinson Chirinos (-.019). 1-4, R, 2K
- Goat: Sergio Alcantara (-.009). 1-4, HR, RBI, R
- Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (-.001). 0-1, K
WPA Play of the Game: Michael Hermosillo batted with a runner on first and no outs in the second inning, the Cubs already up one. He launched his first Cubs homer giving the team a three-run lead to work with early. (.140)
*Reds Play of the Game: Tyler Naquin homered with two outs in the bottom of the second to cut the Cubs lead to 5-1. (.049)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Rafael Ortega (2-4, 2B, BB, 2RBi, R)
Frank Schwindel (2-4, 2B, BB, RBi)
Matt Duffy (3-5, RBI)
Adam Morgan (IP, 3 batters faced, K)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Rafael Ortega +19
- Patrick Wisdom +12 (-1)/Nico Hoerner +12
- *PJ Higgins -9.5
- Zach Davies -11
- Rex Brothers -11.5
- Jake Arrieta -19
- Ian Happ -21 (+1)
Up Next: The Cubs get a day off on Thursday. This weekend, the Royals will be at Wrigley Field for a three-game set. The Cubs are set to send Zach Davies (6-9, 5.00) to the hill in the opener. Brad Keller (7-12, 5.62) will throw the opener for Kansas City.