At least they got to have some fun in that first inning before everything went sideways. Losing a big early lead should be a one-time fluke occurrence. This is the second time this year the Cubs have led by six or more runs before they ever took the field and lost. With all of the caveats about winning on the road and quality of opposition, that’s a pretty crazy thing for a team to go through.
I’ve written recently about the toughness as a fan in looking at these games. Do I want them to win? Do I want them to lose? I despise rooting for losses even though I recognize the benefits of the losses piling up. Every loss increases the likelihood of a higher draft positioning and the benefits that go with it (such as a larger cap for spending on draft picks). So in that regard, the White Sox did us a favor.
Because I’m not going to root for a loss, I’m really looking at these games for what value they are potentially providing for the Cubs’ future. I’m looking to see guys who might be on next year’s team getting a chance to play, to contribute and to learn. To that end, one would assume that Patrick Wisdom has bought himself some time at some position next year. Two more homers, a walk and two more strikeouts is another mixed bag. Patrick is going to be a curious one to watch. Can he carve a small career out of his power and good defense? If this were 1981, I might expect that Wisdom would have a 10-year career and see an All-Star game in an odd year. Before the explosion of analytics in baseball, a guy who you’d expect to play a strong third base and hit 25 homers was going to hit somewhere between fifth and seventh in your lineup on a daily basis and be a stalwart on the team for years. In modern baseball? I just don’t know. As I said, I have to think he’s pre-purchased himself some playing time in 2022. He certainly knows what he needs to work on. If he could eliminate just a little swing and miss from his game, he could provide some value for a while.
Certainly, every player the Cubs can identify who can provide some value for a little while is a thing that can help this team become relevant faster. None of these guys need to become guys who are cornerstones of the next really good team to provide a lot of utility to the organization. Every player on this team who can provide value above replacement player allows the organization to focus on other roster spots. Certainly, having a guy a little above replacement level doesn’t stop you from picking up a guy who has a history of being well above replacement value. But it takes all of the urgency out of it and makes things quite a bit easier.
So the question becomes, how many of these guys can capably hold down their position while the organization looks to sign and/or develop quality players to get back into contention? Certainly, as long as Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks are here, that’s an easy two. Wisdom is one of a large group of players who might plausibly be capable of producing some value for a period of time.
Certainly, the Cubs would like young pitchers Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele and Friday night’s starter Keegan Thompson to be guys who you’d put on that list. Keegan was staked a 6-0 lead last night against one of the best teams in baseball. He then faced 14 batters in two plus innings, allowed five hits and two walks and was charged with five runs (four earned). It’s a different situation when you have that kind of lead. It should be a good one. But it creates that situation where they tell you they need you to throw strikes and attack, not walking people. And, in modern baseball, six runs is just not that enormous of a lead in the first inning. Hopefully, Keegan learned some things that he can take forward. He is very much a work in process.
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 130, August 27: White Sox 17, Cubs 13 (56-74)
- Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.120). 2-4, 2-HR (21, 22), BB, 4RBI, 3R, 2K
- Hero: Frank Schwindel (.061). 2-5, R, K, CS
- Sidekick: Robinson Chirinos (.056). 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, 2K
- Billy Goat: Adrian Sampson (-.479). IP, 9 batters faced, 2H, BB, 4R (1ER), 2HBP (L 0-1)
- Goat: Keegan Thompson (-.209). 2IP, 14 batters faced, 5H, 2BB, 5R (4ER), K
- Kid: Michael Rucker (-.078). 1⅔IP, 10 batters faced, 4H, BB, 4R
WPA Play of the Game: In the third inning with the Cubs leading by three Yasmani Grandal came to the plate with two on and none out against Adrian Sampson. He slugged a three-run, game-tying homer. (.219)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With runners on first and third and no outs in the first inning, Patrick Wisdom belted a three-run homer for the first three runs of the game. (.142)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Ian Happ (2-5, HR, 3RBI, R)
Jason Heyward (2-4, 2RBI, R)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Patrick Wisdom +20 (+3)
- Rafael Ortega +17
- *Nico Hoerner +12
- Frank Schwindel +12 (+2)
- *PJ Higgins/Rex Brothers -9.5
- David Bote/Ian Happ -12
- Zach Davies -14
- Jake Arrieta -19
Up Next: In game two of the weekend series, the Cubs will send Alec Mills (5-6, 4.76) to the mound Saturday evening to face Lance Lynn (10-3, 2.20).