I still sit firmly: This Cubs team is not very good and is on its way to 90+ losses. I’m not ready to say that one decent road trip erases that. But I will note what Al wrote about the other day. This team has, to this point, played better on the road. That’s usually the harder part of the equation. If that were sustainable, then you’d have to imagine the home record falls into place. But that’s a big “if,” to be sure.
That said, if we go down the rabbit hole of that “if,” then Kyle Hendricks needs to be one of the guys that leads the Cubs back to respectability. As one of the guys who was here for the championship, he remains a quiet leader. He has now strung together good starts twice in row, three of five and in half of his eight starts. Everyone is going to have an off night, but that ledger needs to get off balanced in a positive direction.
Let’s hope that Saturday night was a step in the right direction. A Cubs team that wins 80-85 games is a lot more fun than a team that wins fewer than 75 games and certainly than one that looked up until very recently like it could win fewer than 70.
Let’s look at three positives from Saturday’s game.
- Kyle Hendricks. I’m a sucker for starting pitching. Both teams got a good start, Kyle Hendricks was able to stick in there on the road against a strong start from Zac Gallen who was every bit as dominant as advertised.
- Yan Gomes. He homered to tie the game 1-1 and then later singled in the go ahead run to make it 2-1. He’s been quite an effective backup, finally filling the whole made when Victor Caratini was traded away.
- Daniel Norris. I think this is the first time my three positives have perfectly aligned with the Heroes for the game. But I can’t overlook Norris’ amazing performance out of the pen. He faced four batters and struck them all out. That was all three outs in the seventh and the first hitter in the eighth when the teams were still knotted at 1-1. Over his last three appearances, he’s faced 11 batters, allowed one hit and nothing else while striking out six.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from last night’s game.
Game 32, May 14: Cubs 4 at Diamondbacks 2 (12-20)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.182). 5⅔ IP (25 batters) 5H, 2BB, R, 2K, HBP
- Hero: Yan Gomes (.164). 2-4, HR, 2RBI, R
- Sidekick: Daniel Norris (.135). 1⅓ IP (4 batters), 4K
- Billy Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.103). 0-4, 3K
- Goat: Jonathan Villar (-.085). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Frank Schwindel/Jason Heyward (-.067). Schwindel 0-3, K; Heyward 0-4, RBI, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Ian Happ batted with runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth inning. The game was still tied 1-1 and Mark Melancon was on the mound. Happ drew a walk and set up a big inning that turned out to be decisive. (.139)
*Diamondbacks Play of the Game: Almost all of the action took place in the ninth inning of this one. That incudes both key plays. And both were table-setting plays. With the Cubs up 4-1, Rowan Wick was looking for his third save of the season. There was a runner on first with no outs and Seth Beer was the batter. Beer singled, sending the runner over to third and giving the Diamondbacks a fighting chance. (.120)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (please leave suggestion in the comments)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
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.
- Ian Happ +14
- Willson Contreras +9.5
- Scott Effross +9
- Frank Schwindel -7.5
- Patrick Wisdom -9
- Jason Heyward -11.5
Up Next: The third and final game of the season at Arizona. The Cubs will have Justin Steele (1-4, 5.32) on the mound. Justin had a strong first couple of starts but has fallen on some hard times. He could use a bounceback today. He’ll face Humberto Castellanos (2-1, 4.32). This is the first game in the series that looks like it might produce some scoring. The Cubs will be looking to win the series. It would be only their third such win of the season. It would also give them a winning road trip and would even up their road record on the season.