When the Cubs front office decided to “break up the band” one of the reasons was that for far too long the offense was relatively homogenous. Basically, they would all feast off of the same kind of pitching and they’d all slump against other kinds of pitching. Obviously, the turnover of the roster is nowhere near done and to be fair, all teams go through slumps. But the Cubs are still very much in team feast or famine.
To be fair, this Zac Gallen kid appears to be the real deal and the Cubs did hang in there just enough to draw three walks, have two hits, score a run against him and he was out of the game with five innings pitched. I’ll spare you overexplaining ERA, but Gallen came in at 1.05, so one run in five innings isn’t an abject failure by any means.
Still, the bottom line is that a night after losing with only five hits the Cubs lost with four. They’ve scored just three runs in their last two games. If we define the cutoff for expecting to win at three runs allowed (falls in line with the quality start extended out), then the Cubs have pitched well enough to win seven of 11. They’ve won six of those, so even with a crude assumption, they aren’t massively underperforming.
None of that makes any of this less frustrating. Also, Wednesday night’s game wasn’t against a Gallen-like starter. Gallen is making a serious bid to start the All-Star game and barring disaster for him, looks definitely headed to the staff. But that doesn’t explain the results of the night before. All we can hope at this point is that the offensive woes don’t extend to a third game.
Let’s turn our attention to three positives from last night’s game.
- Brandon Hughes has to be my number one. I love a clean inning out of the pen. Well, how about five batters, five outs? I’m always trying to pump the brakes on a new guy. Wait until the scouting catches up to them and see what happens. His rise to the majors has been meteoric and the results fantastic over his first two outings.
- Credit where it is due. The Cubs had four hits. Yan Gomes had two of them including the lone RBI on a fourth inning double. At .266/.288/.422 he’s largely above career averages so far. He’s been a very good pickup. Much has been said about the potential for trading Willson Contreras. A different option, though it would net less, would be trading Gomes who would have value for a team with an injured or aging catcher down the stretch.
- Christopher Morel merits consideration here with a walk and a stolen base in a tight game. But for the same reason, I’m going with Scott Effross. He and Hughes transformed their careers together in the minor leagues and now they are for the moment at least, extremely effective pieces of a very strong bullpen. Effross faced five batters and recorded four outs including three strikeouts. I don’t think I’m framing it wrong when I say that Scott and Keegan Thompson have been the two most consistent Cubs pitchers. Both are Cubs draft picks. They appear to finally be finding their way out of that desert.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from last night’s game.
Game 37, May 19: Diamondbacks 3 at Cubs 1 (15-22)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Yan Gomes (.082). 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2K
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.056). 0-2, BB, HBP, R, K
- Sidekick: Scott Effross (.052). 1⅓ IP (5 batters), BB, 3K
- Billy Goat: Ian Happ (-.198). 0-4
- Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.161). 0-3, BB, K
- Kid: Rafael Ortega (-.113). 0-3, K
WPA Play of the Game: The game was scoreless when Daulton Varsho stepped in against Cubs starter Marcus Stroman to lead off the fourth. Varsho hit a solo homer and the Diamondbacks would go on to score all three runs in the inning. (.126)
*Cubs Play of the Game: There were two outs and there was a runner on second, the Cubs trailing 3-0 when Yan Gomes batted in the fourth against Zac Gallen. Gomes doubled netting the Cubs only run of the game. (.093)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Brandon Hughes (1 2⁄3 IP, 5 batters, 2K)
Someone else (please leave a suggestion below)
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.
- Willson Contreras +13.5
- Scott Effross +10
- David Robertson +9.5
- Frank Schwindel -6.5
- Jason Heyward -11.5
- Patrick Wisdom -15
Up Next: Game two of this four-game set. The Cubs will look to even the series at one game a piece. In the larger block of games, the Cubs are 4-3 at the halfway point of 14 games in 14 days. Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 4.03) will start for the Cubs. Kyle appears to have corrected course after a rough start to the season. He’s also been very good at home. Hopefully, he’ll be sharp and the offense can lend him support against another good Diamondbacks starter, Humberto Castellanos (2-1, 4.15).