This one hurts less than the previous one. Two losses in two days. Glass half full? ‘Three runs allowed each day. If your team allowed exactly three runs every day, you are going to win a lot of games. Probably an awful lot of them. One might counter point that the Reds aren’t a particularly good team. Or actually that they are a terrible team. But always remember, no matter how bad a team is, those are professional hitters on the other side. If you make mistakes they will probably hurt you.
Glass half empty? The Cubs only managed three runs over the last two days and one of them was on a busted play. To be sure, it was a very different Hunter Greene that threw on Monday night than we’ve seen in the past. One wonders if this was just a one-off or more likely if the light is going on for a talented player who hasn’t put it together yet. Only time will tell.
Still, the eye test, the stats, everything points to this team needing some more bats and not just replacement level bats. This lineup can really use a high end and a second potent bat besides. I’ll take pitching first, last and always. But, you have to be able to consistently put runs on the board. This team still isn’t that team.
All that said, this game Tuesday night was clearly winnable. When the Cubs traded away four relievers at the deadline, I suspected we’d see a whole bunch of games just like this one. Amazingly, that never really materialized. But, it did bite the Cubs tonight. The generally dependable Keegan Thompson allowed two runs that tied the game up. And Brandon Hughes was touched for the game winner.
One can’t know what would have happened if no trades had been made. Thompson and Hughes were both in the mix before the deadline. It’s not impossible that these two would have been in these roles in any scenario. But either way, you didn’t get beat with scrubs on the mound who are only in the majors because of the trades. These two were going to be a part of the team even if it hadn’t been prudent to make those trades.
Certainly you hate to see two of your best touched up in the same game. But even the all time best in baseball history have gotten beat sometimes. You hate to see it, but you roll with it. You sometimes get to their guy and they sometimes get yours.
Not a chance I’m dwelling on a fluky loss like this. I’m turning the page and moving on to the season finale. But first, I’m going to bring you my three stars.
- There are two very good choices in this one, but I’m going with Willson Contreras first. Willson had two hits and a walk. One of those hits was a solo homer. Injuries slowed what was a fantastic season for Willson, but he still had a very strong year.
- Anything lower than second for Javier Assad would be criminal. He was outstanding again. It took him 20 batters to record 16 outs. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. I don’t know that Javier is a make the team out of spring training guy, but I’m certainly hoping we see more of him next year.
- The Cubs offense was stifled for a second straight day, recording only three hits in this one. Impressively, two of them left the yard. Nico Hoerner had that other homer and he gets my third slot. Nico’s star turn was one of my favorite storylines in 2022.
Now let’s go to the numbers and see how WPA scored the Heroes and Goats in this one.
Game 161, October 4: Reds 3, Cubs 2 (73-88)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Javier Assad (.244). 5⅓ IP (20 batters), 4H, BB, 4K
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.164). 2-3, HR, RBI, R, BB, K
- Sidekick: Zach McKinstry (.074). 0-0, 2SB
- Billy Goat: Brandon Hughes (-.351). 0IP (2 batters, H, BB, R
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.185). 0-4
- Kid: Patrick Wisdom (-.153). 0-4, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Chuckie Robinson’s two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning tied the game at two. (.334)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Nico Hoerner’s homer leading off the seventh inning gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. (.122)
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 +20
- Scott Effross +17
- Nico Hoerner +10.5
- Drew Smyly/Justin Steele/Keegan Thompson +10
- Ian Happ -10
- Rafael Ortega -11.5
- David Bote -12
- Yan Gomes -14.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
The Rizzo Award goes down to the final day. The scenario is simple now. Christopher Morel needs to be the Superhero to win the award. If he does not, David Robertson will take the Rizzo Award for four months of work. The 2021 winner was Frank Schwindel, so a partial-season winner is not unprecedented.
Up Next: The final game of the season. The Cubs have already won the season series with the Reds and already guaranteed they won’t lose 90. They’ve already won more games than last year. So there are no extra incentives other than maybe not ending on a sweep after such a strong run to finish the season.
The Cubs will start Adrian Sampson (4-5, 3.10). Adrian has been flat-out terrific down the stretch. The Reds will counter with Graham Ashcraft (5-5, 4.52). Let’s get one more win and call it a season.