The conditions at Wrigley Friday were those you wanted when Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Báez, maybe even Jorge Soler were still in the lineup. Of course, as corrections go, all of those sluggers had a fair bit of strikeout in their game. The offense would go through long slumps. And so this management group has leaned into getting a little more contact in the lineup. But that has sacrificed a bit of power. Only nine teams in all of MLB have less homers than the Cubs and only 10 have less slugging percentage. So this team isn’t really built for a game in which 11 balls left the yard. With yesterday’s outburst, the Diamondbacks now have the sixth most homers in MLB.
Yesterday was one of those days where the Cubs just felt overmatched. That happened a lot after the trade deadline last year. It hasn’t been as prevalent this year save for the Dodgers series where it looked to me like the Cubs were a college team that the Dodgers were playing in three tuneup games before the season started. Rebuilding is hard and can be painful to watch. The season is now approaching one quarter of the way through. I don’t think even the most optimistic fan thought this team was a serious contender for anything. If any team in the NL Central actually had a good season then this team was dead in the water. The Brewers are good and so wait ‘til next year is fully upon us.
71 days is the countdown. 71 days until the next round of trades. I’m sure there are guys this organization would like to keep, probably even a lot of them. If a player is in his arb years or later, it’s hard to imagine that they are totally unavailable in a trade. If they are on an expiring contract, it’s hard to imagine they won’t be available. Without looking back, I believe the Cubs had three years of actively trading away players before they became a buyer and not a seller. That would make this year two of the process. A haul of talent has certainly been acquired. But you can never have too much talent in your organization.
Enough of the negative. Let’s find three positives from Friday’s loss.
- Jonathan Villar’s bat. He had a double and a homer yesterday. His numbers are still less than league average for the season though. Villar could be in a precarious position when the injured list starts to empty out. David Bote and Clint Frazier were both in Iowa’s lineup and one would expect the two of them to start a wave of players returning from injury.
- Christopher Morel. I’ll say it again. When you are brought up for just an injury fill-in, the best thing you can do is catch fire and make it hard for them to send you back. 13 plate appearances, 1.371 WHIP and 271 wRC+ is what I would call make the most of your opportunity.
- Ildemaro Vargas. Not only did he have a homer, but he drew two walks. All three of these players are facing a roster crunch soon. If/when everyone is healthy, at best there is room for one of these three players on the roster. I can’t look at them and say any of them are 100 percent likely to stay or 100 percent likely to go.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Friday’s loss.
Game 38, May 20: Diamondbacks 10 at Cubs 6 (15-23)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Jonathan Villar (.125). 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI, R
- Hero: Christopher Morel (.108). 2-4. HR, 2RBI, R
- Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (.063). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, K
- Billy Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.493). 5IP (24 batters faced), 8H, 2BB, 7R, 3K (L 2-4)
*worst WPA score by a Cubs player to date
- Goat: Alfonso Rivas (-.108). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.089). 0-4, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: This was only a 4-3 game in the fifth inning when Josh Rojas stepped in with a man on first and one out. Josh homered for the second time in the game and for the season and the rout was on. (.186)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jonathan Villar batted with the bases empty and two outs in the fourth, the Cubs trailing 4-2. He homered, keeping the Cubs in the game a little longer. (.116)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Ildemaro Vargas (1-2, HR, 2BB, RBI, 2R)
Someone else (leave your 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.
- Willson Contreras +12.5
- Scott Effross +10
- David Robertson +9.5
- Frank Schwindel -6.5
- Jason Heyward -11.5
- Patrick Wisdom -14
Up Next: Game three of the four-game set. The Cubs need to win the final two to split the series. Justin Steele (1-4, 4.50) starts for the Cubs. He’s coming off of arguably his best start of the year. He’s going to need to be sharp because he’s facing Madison Bumgarner (2-2, 2.29). Madison’s numbers would project out to some of the best of his career. He doesn’t have the quantity of innings that was once a trademark, and he hasn’t been a full time and healthy starter since 2019. So far in 2022, though, he looks to be dominant the way he was when he was an All-Star and Cy Young contender from 2013 to 2016.