The Cubs lost both ends of a split doubleheader on Friday. That drops them to a season-low 20 games under .500. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have now won 14 games in a row. There’s nothing like a stretch of games where a team seemingly can’t lose. I’ve pointed this out before, but the Cubs were actually two games ahead of the Cardinals when the Cubs emptied the shelves of basically every expiring contract and player with any market. The odds of any given team winning 14 games in a row are remote. The odds for a team to start that kind of winning streak with well over 100 games played sitting at two over .500 are microscopic. I don’t imagine that even people inside of the Cardinals clubhouse would think this kind of stretch was even possible.
The Cubs are now 18 games behind the Cardinals. For the Cardinals, for what little it’s worth, they are now only seven games behind the Brewers. Even if the Cardinals won eight more games to close out their season, they still almost certainly wouldn’t catch the Brewers. But the fact that it is even slightly mathematically possible is quite an achievement for the Cardinals.
In 2021, the Cubs have actually fared decently well against the Cardinals, but all of those games were played against a struggling Cardinals team. With two losses on Friday to these Cardinals, the Cubs have now dropped eight of nine. The Cubs are looking very solid now for the seventh overall pick with only a slight chance of moving further up (or back down).
Patrick Wisdom landed the Superhero spot in game two. That gave him +26 on the year to tie Kris Bryant. Of course, with Frank Schwindel, the high score on the season has now reached +32. That’s on the strength of a Hero placement in Game 2.
Every now and then, I get some of these baseball predictions right. I called Patrick Wisdom being alive in the season long competition for the Rizzo Award. I also predicted the Cardinals would win the division. That one isn’t going to be right. But, with 85 wins on the season, they are squarely into one of the top spots in record within the National League.
Two teams heading in different directions. They will square off five more times before the end of the season. The Cardinals are heading for a 90-win season most likely and just the same way, the Cubs are heading for 90 losses. The question in the end, is have the Cubs put themselves in better position for next year and beyond? That question is still very much open. I’ve always kind of begrudgingly respected the Cardinals and their metronome like precision. Year after year after year, they are competitive. Then it just becomes a matter of preference. The Cubs have the more recent World Series win. The Cardinals, though being in the race every year, haven’t made a ton of playoff appearances and when they are there, they haven’t really done anything there in some time. They’ll be heavily favored this year to head to San Francisco or Los Angeles for a single playoff game and then be done for the season. But then, they have been left for dead so many times this season. I think they’ll lose, but I wouldn’t bet against them.
We’ve got two games to look at, so let’s get 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 153, September 24: Cardinals 8 at Cubs 5 (67-86)
- Superhero: Nico Hoerner (.076). 0-1, BB
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.040). 1-3, BB, 2B, RBI, K
- Sidekick: Matt Duffy (.027). 1-3, BB, R, 2K
- Billy Goat: Justin Steele (-.219). 5IP, 23 batters faced, 7H, 6R, 2BB, 5K (L 3-4)
- Goat: Trayce Thompson (-.144). 0-2, BB, R, K
- Kid: David Bote (-.100). 1-2, BB, R, K
WPA Play of the Game: With a runner on first and two outs in the third inning, the game was scoreless. Paul Goldschmidt stepped in against Justin Steele. He homered and the Cardinals had a two run lead. (.255)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With the Cubs trailing 2-0, Nico Hoerner batted with runners on first and second with one out. Hoerner worked a walk and the bases were loaded. (.096)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game 1?
This poll is closed
Game 154, September 24: Cardinals 12 at Cubs 4 (67-87)
- Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.120). 1-4, HR (28), 2RBI, R
- Hero: Frank Schwindel (.079). 2-3, HBP, 2B, 2R
- Sidekick: Nick Martini (.039). 1-2
- Billy Goat: Zach Davies (-.496). 2IP, 15 batters faced, 7H, 2BB, 6R, 2K (L 6-12)
*For Zach, this is his worst WPA score of the year. For the Cubs, this is the eighth-worst score of the year.
- Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.076). 0-3
- Kid: Austin Romine (-.065). 0-3, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: With the Cardinals leading 3-2 in the third inning, Tyler O’Neill batted with runners on first and third and one out. O’Neill homered and the rout was on. (.177)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With the Cubs already down 3-0 in the first inning, Patrick Wisdom batted with a runner on first and one out. He hit his 28th homer of the year and briefly gave the Cubs hope. (.170)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game 2
This poll is closed
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Frank Schwindel +32 (+2)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Patrick Wisdom +26 (+3)
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Nico Hoerner +16 (+1)
- *PJ Higgins -9.5
- Rex Brothers -11.5
- David Bote -16 (-1)
- Jake Arrieta -19
- Zach Davies -25 (-3)
We can be pretty sure that Zach Davies is going to finish in the bottom spot as the final standings come into focus. Nico Hoerner moves into the top five. At the top, six points now separate Patrick Wisdom from Frank Schwindel. As a proportion of their total points, six seems like a large number. However, that puts the final race squarely in single game territory. Of course, Schwindel has reached the top, in part, because he has never had a Billy Goat game. If he can avoid a first over his last ten games, he should win this race.
Up Next: These two teams are back at it on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs send Adrian Sampson (1-2, 2.84) to the mound. The Cardinals counter with Jon Lester (7-6, 4.59). The Wrigley faithful are sure to show some more appreciation to Jon, who recently won his 200th game.