Sometimes less is more. Right after a 20-5 loss to the woeful Cincinnati Reds, this is probably a good time for that. There isn’t a lot to say about it. The Reds are a little healthier now than they were in April when they looked like they had a chance to make all of the worst kinds of history. So a series split in Cincinnati isn’t as awful as it might look with the record.
“Reality” can be elusive. Right now, I suspect the reality is that there isn’t a ton of talent difference between these two teams. The Reds aren’t very good. They don’t have much star power and their roster doesn’t feature a lot of talent on the way up either. But that’s fairly true of the Cubs too. I mean, I’m taking the Cubs roster over the Reds, but what am I taking them to do? Try to make a hard run at finishing third in a two-team race to the finish?
I suspect in April, it would have seemed a lot more clear to take the Cubs over the Reds, but things shift. Right now, the Reds are trending up (there wasn’t much other direction to go) and the Cubs are at best trending sideways. Who can know what June will bring? But it probably isn’t great things for either of these teams.
So the Cubs tread water through their stretch of 14 games in 14 days. I said that they needed to stay healthy, particularly in the pitching department. I think that more or less the pitching staff held through. The return of Wade Miley certainly helped stabilize the rotation. But, there were a ton of minor injuries to regular players. We can’t know, but if there had been a bit more health among the hitters, might they have won another game or two?
Regardless, they didn’t. Splitting 14 games is an improvement on winning percentage, but it was 14 further days pulled off the calendar. If you had dim hopes of a wildcard berth, that got even dimmer over this stretch. The calendar turns to June next week and that’s going to lead to the start of trade rumor season. Buckle up, there will be trades.
Let’s try to look at three positives from a very negative game.
- Christopher Morel has been in this spot almost every day while he’s been up. He had two more hits, including a double, stole base and scored a run. You couldn’t have asked much more for him in his time here.
- Ian Happ had another homer, drew a walk and scored twice. Ian is having a very nice season, very quietly.
- Willson Contreras avoided the injured list, got back in the lineup and even hit a homer. All catchers get banged up. Willson’s ability to miss minimal time has been a huge asset through the years.
Even in a loss this ugly, there were still Heroes. And not even “anti-heroes” at that. So let’s get to those and one very ugly goat.
Game 44, May 26: Reds 20, Cubs 5 (18-26)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Frank Schwindel (.125). 1-4, 2B, 2RBI, K, DP
- Hero: Nico Hoerner (.071). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Christopher Morel (.056). 2-5, 2B, R, SB, K
- Billy Goat: Justin Steele (-.454). 2IP (14 batters), 7H, 2BB, 7R, 2K (L 1-5)
*Ties the third worst WPA score of the year by a Cub
- Goat: Scott Effross (-.146). IP (6 batters), 3H, BB, 3R
- Kid: Alfonso Rivas/Patrick Wisdom (-.059). Rivas: 0-4; Wisdom 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Frank Schwindel batted with runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the first. He doubled and the Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead. (.173)
*Reds Play of the Game: The Reds were trailing 3-0 when Kyle Farmer came to the plate with a runner on first with no outs in the second. He homered, cutting the lead to one. (.149)
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 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
- Nico Hoerner +12
- Ian Happ +10
- Kyle Hendricks -9
- Patrick Wisdom -9.5
- Jason Heyward -11.5
Up Next: An extremely rare Friday off day. They returned to Chicago Thursday evening and will road team in a two-game set on the South Side against the White Sox. I feel fairly certain that the roster will be bolstered by at least one player from an Iowa rehab assignment coming off the injured list. The White Sox have improved since they last played the Cubs, but at 22-22 they are well short of where they hoped to be at this point in the season. 4½ games behind in late May is far from insurmountable, but that’s where they are behind the Twins. They swept a pair of close games from the Cubs at Wrigley earlier this month. The Cubs will look to stop them from repeating that feat.