When the Cubs were one of the best teams in baseball, they’d sometimes play down to the competition against one of the bottom tier teams. No doubt that happens to the Dodgers sometimes these days. But it absolutely did not this weekend. There is no question who is the better team on paper. If the entire Cubs team was offered to the Dodgers free of charge, they wouldn’t make massive sweeping changes to their club. That team is built to win and they rolled over a much lesser Cubs team.
Adding injury to insult, Marcus Stroman was the second pitcher in a week’s time to abruptly be scratched from a start. That from a team that still hasn’t seen Wade Miley throw his first pitch for them and hasn’t seen Alec Mills throw his first this year. A team that didn’t have a settled rotation is getting thinner and thinner.
You knew from the start that this was a wait till next year season, that it would be more about development than on the wins and losses. But you had to think that maybe they could hang around for a bit. If I had my choice, I’d always choose a front loaded schedule. I generally believe you can steal a few games early while the good teams are still sorting through what they’ve got for the year. That’s what the Cubs got this year, but they just aren’t stealing any of the games, mostly. They got one in Atlanta, one in Milwaukee (and two in the opening series) and one against the Rays. But this team is now 3-14 since they started 6-4. Things aren’t pretty.
Let’s see what we can find for three positives.
- Rafael Ortega had a double, a walk and stole a base. He scored a run.
- Willson Contreras had the best weekend of anybody in the Cubs lineup. He had a hit, a walk and an RBI. He was involved in all three runs that scored over the weekend. I think out of everyone, Willson might be the one that hurts me the most when he’s gone.
- Daniel Norris was the only Cubs pitcher not to allow a run. He faced four batters in a scoreless inning, striking out one. Use of an “opener” can make for some scrambling through the record books. I was off of social media for the Mother’s Day holiday, but I can imagine there was a bit of searching to find the last Cubs “starter” to pitch the day after starting.
And with that, we turn our attention to Heroes and Goats from Sunday’s game.
Game 27, May 8: Dodgers 7 at Cubs 1 (9-18)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Rafael Ortega (.102). 1-3, BB, 2B, R, SB
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.052). 1-3, BB, RBI
- Sidekick: Daniel Norris (.007). IP (4 batters), H, K
- Billy Goat: Michael Rucker (-.186). 3 IP (14 batters), 4H, 3BB, 2R, 3K, 2WP
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.180). 0-4, 3K, DP
- Kid: Alfonso Rivas (-.059). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With runners at first and third and two outs in the fourth, this was still a 1-1 game when Justin Steele faced Cody Bellinger. Bellinger singled and the Dodgers took a lead they’d never relinquish. (.121)
*Cubs Play of the Game: In the first inning Willson Contreras batted with a runner on third and two outs. He singled and the Cubs had an early 1-0 lead. (.091)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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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/Alfonso Rivas +11
- Nico Hoerner/Scott Effross +9
- Jason Heyward/Kyle Hendricks/Yan Gomes -9
Up Next: The Cubs now head west for a pair of three game sets sandwiched around a day off Thursday. Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 5.64) is scheduled to take the first start. It’s disconcerting to see the ERA quite that high. Kyle has been a bit of a slow starter in his career, but the struggles seem a little bit harder and are lasting a little bit longer this year. The Cubs are going to need more from him if they are going to put the brakes on the early losing. The Padres have scheduled MacKenzie Gore (2-0, 1.71). Unsurprisingly, the Cubs have their work cut out for them.