I’ve decided that I just don’t have a vivid enough imagination, because things keep happening for the Cubs that I just didn’t imagine happening. Among them: The Cubs sweeping their last homestand of the season. This hits the official milestones. This is now 100 games of .500 baseball and alongside that, this team can’t lose 90 games.
The transformation has been so sudden and dramatic, that I need a new metric. I’d hoped that the Cubs might manage a .500 record over their final 100 games. That’s already been accomplished. So I’m changing the focus. Over the last 54 games, the Cubs are 31-23. I didn’t go looking for a hot or a cold streak. I just looked specifically for 54 games, exactly a third of a baseball season. That makes the math really easy. That’s a 93-win pace over the final 54.
I know I’m a broken record, but 54 games ago was August 5. That means that entire set of games falls after the trade deadline, the time when the Cubs essentially traded their top four bullpen arms. Undoubtedly there has been luck, timing, some weak competition and a variety of other things that have contributed. But at some point, you can’t just discount the whole thing. Certainly, the team needs to continue to improve — but the players that are here now are capable of stacking wins when things are going well.
This offseason is likely to be the most normal one for baseball executives since the 2018-2019 offseason. Due to the pandemic and the uncertainty around the CBA, there has been a lot for teams to juggle. The Cubs front office goes into this offseason knowing that if they make their decisions right, this team should be playing competitive baseball into September and possibly even into October.
There is no more confusion or parallel fronts. This team should be in high level talent acquisition mode with an eye on opening a championship window. Without doubt, there is more talent to be added. But 2023 should be less about players that might be flippable at the trade deadline. It’s about getting the chemistry right and trying to get a whole 40-man roster pushing and pulling in the same direction. They need to balance opportunities for youth to find ways to contribute and having the necessary veteran leadership.
Sunday’s series-ending game to complete the homestand sweep was one of the more mundane ones in recent memory. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead and just coasted. The Reds may put up some fight in Cincinnati over the waning days of the season, but on Sunday afternoon and Chicago, they really couldn’t be bothered.
My top star of the game is Nelson Velázquez. Nelson had a double, a triple, a walk, drove in four runs and scored one. Nelson hasn’t had great success in his first season in the majors, but this was a very good game for him.
Marcus Stroman threw six innings, needing 25 batters to do so. He allowed five hits and two walks. He picked up his sixth win of the season for his efforts.
With a nod to Rowan Wick who faced three batters and struck them all out, I give my third spot to Ian Happ who had three hits, including a double, drew a walk, and drove in a run.
Let’s look now at how WPA saw the top contributors in the win.
Game 159, October 2: Cubs 8, Reds 1 (73-86)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Marcus Stroman (.147). 6IP (25 batters), 5H, 2BB, 7K (W 6-7)
- Hero: Ian Happ (.099). 3-4, 2B, RBI, BB
- Sidekick: Nelson Velazquez (.094). 2-3, 3B, 2B, 4RBI, BB
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.035). 1-4, 2B, 2K
- Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.004). 1-4, 2RBI, 2R, SF
- Kid: Erich Uelmen (.001). IP (3 batters), K
WPA Play of the Game: The Cubs were already up 3-0 in the first when Nelson Velazquez batted with the bases loaded and two outs. Nelson delivered a two-run double. (.091)
*Reds Play of the Game: One batter earlier, Fernando Cruz struck out David Bote for the second out of the inning. (.038)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- David Robertson +22.5
- Christopher Morel +21
- Scott Effross +17
- Nico Hoerner +10.5
- Drew Smyly/Justin Steele/Keegan Thompson +10
- Frank Schwindel/Daniel Norris/Alfonso Rivas -9.5
- Rafael Ortega -11.5
- David Bote -12
- Yan Gomes -14.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
To update again, the Rizzo award is now a two-man race. Nico Hoerner is officially eliminated. I felt sure for a while that this was his award to win, but his late season injury derailed the offensive progress he had made. With that, Christopher Morel trails by 1.5 with three to go. He needs one Hero or better performance in Cincinnati with no negative performances.
Will Christopher Morel pull out the 2022 Rizzo Award?
This poll is closed
Up Next: The fun and games move to Cincinnati for the final three contests of the 2022 season. The Reds have now lost six in a row and nine of 10. Their next loss will be number 100. I feel pretty safe in assuming that 100th loss is coming.
Hayden Wesneski (3-1, 2.33) looks to continue the dazzling start to his career. This will be the first time he faces a team for the second time. He threw five scoreless innings of relief in his season debut a little less than a month ago against them. The Reds will start Hunter Greene (4-13, 4.66) who has to be ready for this season to end. Why not make it eight straight wins?