More than a season ago, Al and I made a couple of creative decisions with this feature. One of those was the poll about Player of the Game. We experimented with a Hero of the Game on wins and Goat of the Game on losses. I’m going to confess to really not liking the negativity that surrounds the Goat of the Game. Every now and then someone does something pretty boneheaded and it feels a little therapeutic to talk about the Goat. But most of the time, it feels mean-spirited. These are our guys, for better or for worse. Your mileage may vary and you’ll behave the way that feels best to you. For me, supporting the guys wearing Cubs uniforms is the way I go. Sure, I get frustrated sometimes, the same way many of you do. But by and large, I’m all in with them. I’ll always wish they had the talent to be the last team standing at the end. But once the team crosses the lines, they are trying to win a ball game and I’m supporting them.
Another one of those decisions was to feature the Superhero in the cover photo. So before you rush here after a close game, know there is pretty much always a spoiler right there in that photo. On a game like this, it makes me smile to get a photo like this one. Not only is the Superhero featured, but so is the Hero. And as someone who does support the blue, the Hero for this game excites me. We’ve talked a lot about the late season success that this team has had. We’ve talked about the triumvirate of players who have driven that late push. They are three guys, Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel who are all right around 30 years old. They all have considerably less mileage on them than the average player still playing at 30. But just the same, one way or another they’ll likely be battling Father Time and health sooner or later.
Alfonso Rivas who captured the Hero spot in this game and he’s not an older player. He turned 25 on Sunday (happy birthday!). So that’s five chronological years he’s got on those guys, a lot of time to grow into a player and possibly be something. A fourth-round pick of the A’s in 2018, maybe, just maybe he develops. The rub on him? It’s been that he doesn’t hit for a lot of power. His career high across a whole calendar year is nine homers. He did that in 2019 before the pandemic shut things down for almost all of the minor league players. He has shown the ability to make contact and hit for average. So, his first major league homer has a bit of excitement in it. It’s not unheard of for a guy to grow into his power late. If, he can learn to drive the ball just a little bit, to go with an ability to hit in that .270-.280 range, that could be something. He at least checks in at intriguing.
Also in last night’s game, we saw Patrick Wisdom in the Superhero spot on the podium. That’s back-to-back games if you are paying attention. Patrick has had some mini streaks where he got hot, so this isn’t unprecedented. I mentioned that along with Frank Schwindel and Kris Bryant, Wisdom was the third guy with a shot at winning this year’s Rizzo Award. Certainly, this game puts him solidly into contention. I think I’d probably rate him about a 25-1 shot, but I’m certainly saying he’s got a shot. On a more substantive note, Wisdom hit another homer. That was his 26th homer. As he is involved with a chase for the Rizzo that involves Bryant who’s posted a +26 score, Wisdom has also chased down KB for the Cubs rookie homer record. That number is 26. The two are now tied in Cubs rookie history. Wisdom is going to own that record if he stays healthy. He’ll get more than enough at bats to get at least one more and I wouldn’t be surprised if he blows by that record by a small handful. It’s always fun to etch your name in the Cubs record books.
Let’s go to the numbers and recap a Cubs win. 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 145, September 13: Cubs 6 at Phillies 3 (66-79)
- Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.206). 2-4, HR (26), 2B, 2RBI, R, K
- Hero: Alfonso Rivas (.077). 1-4, HR (1), RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.075). 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, 2K
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.081). 0-4, K
- Goat: Manuel Rodriguez (-.078). IP, 5 batters faced, 2H, BB, R
- Kid: Sergio Alcantara (-.037). 1-4, R, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: With the Phillies leading 1-0 in the fifth, Patrick Wisdom batted with a runner on first and no outs. He launched his 26th homer of the year and gave the Cubs the lead. (.228)
*Phillies Play of the Game: With the Cubs leading by two in the sixth inning, Didi Gregorius batted with runners on first and second and one out. He singled off of Manuel Rodriguez, cutting the Cubs lead to one. (.139)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Rowan Wick (IP, 3 batters faced, 3K, Sv 4)
Scott Effross (IP, 3 batters faced, 2K)
Tommy Nance (IP, 3 batters faced)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Frank Schwindel +28
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Patrick Wisdom +20 (+3)
- Rafael Ortega +14
- *PJ Higgins/Matt Duffy -9.5
- Rex Brothers -11.5
- David Bote -13
- Jake Arrieta -19
- Zach Davies -20
Up Next: Game two of a three-game set. Alec Mills (6-6, 4.35 goes for the Cubs). The Phillies counter with Ranger Suarez (6-4, 1.38). That ERA comes in 78 innings this year. For his career, he has a 2.90 ERA in 145⅔ innings. That ERA is no fluke. Suarez has 78 strikeouts in those 78 innings in 2021 and his WHIP checks in at 1.03. He’s been one tough customer. This is going to be a challenging one.