When you reach 10 games under .500 and 12 games out of first before May ends, you are almost certainly making decisions much more with an eye on the future than the present. There is no cavalry coming to save this team. Certainly though, if you were looking at the schedule and trying to find some wins, you’d have to have looked at this Brewers season and been really happy if the Cubs could split the series. They did that.
This was one of those series where when the two teams separate, both head home thinking of what could have been. But for some defensive miscues in the first game of the series by the Cubs, that one might have been different. And for the Brewers, two losses by a single run against a bad team, even on the road, they have to think they could have gotten out of town with at least three wins in the set.
The Cubs right now are on pace for a 68-win season. There are some players coming back soon that might make meaningful contributions. David Bote dropping Jonathan Villar and/or Andrelton Simmons down or off the depth chart could have some positive difference for the roster. Alec Mills being healthy will help give the team options with a rotation with a couple of veterans and a young guy who hasn’t had a full major league season as a starter yet. Between double headers, injuries, illness and just resting an arm that looks fatigued, all of the options possible would be helpful. With some reinforcements and some better play at home, it isn’t impossible that this team can stabilize a bit and maybe still get into that low 70s win total that many of us projected.
Let’s get to three positives from last night’s win.
- Christopher Morel. He saw his hitting streak snapped, but still found ways to produce. He drew a walk, stole a base, scored a run and had the game winning sacrifice fly. I know it’s only 15 games, but at least for the time being the Cubs have got to keep his bat in the major leagues and in the lineup. Struggles will come, but he has earned a longer look.
- Perfect innings from the bullpen. David Robertson threw a perfect ninth striking out two. Mark Leiter Jr. threw a perfect 10th that included the bonus runner being thrown out at the plate. It is still a perfect inning when you face three batters and record three straight outs, right? Bonus baseball is weird with the bonus runner.
- Jason Heyward returned to the lineup, had a hit and scored two runs. There is also a terrific picture of him and Morel right after the walkoff. The Cubs certainly paid a king’s ransom for leadership. But leadership is still a thing
And now, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from last night’s game.
Game 50, June 1: Cubs 4, Brewers 3 (21-29)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Mark Leiter, Jr. (.312). IP (3 batters), K, WP (W 1-1)
- Hero: Christopher Morel (.147). 0-3, BB, SF, R, RBI, SB, K
- Sidekick: David Robertson (.140). IP (3 batters), 2K
- Billy Goat: Frank Schwindel (-.114). 0-3, BB, K
- Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.111). 0-3, BB, DP
- Kid: Alfonso Rivas (-.098). 1-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With one out and a runner on third in the tenth, Kolten Wong faced Mark Leiter Jr. Wong hit a grounder to second and the Cubs cut down the runner at the plate to preserve the tie. (.232)
*Brewers Play of the Game: With the game tied 2-2 in the fifth, Jace Peterson faced Kyle Hendricks with a man on first with no outs. He doubled and the run scored from first giving the Brewers the lead. (.157)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Mark Leiter Jr.
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 +14.5
- Nico Hoerner +14
- Keegan Thompson +10
- Patrick Wisdom -7.5
- Kyle Hendricks -9
- Jason Heyward -11.5
Up Next: The Cubs open a five-game, four-day set with the Cardinals. In a schedule oddity brought about by the late start to the season, the Cubs have yet to face the 29-21 Cardinals. The teams have mirror records of one another to date and they do seem to be teams heading in different directions.
Keegan Thompson (5-0, 1.58) is scheduled to start the opener. By my count, Keegan and Willson Contreras are neck and neck for the team MVP and vying to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game next month. The Cardinals have Matthew Liberatore (1-0, 3.72) scheduled. With Keegan on the hill, can the Cubs stretch their winning streak to three?
NOTE: I will be traveling starting Saturday. It is possible that one or more editions of Heroes and Goats will be delayed or abridged. As always, I’ll do my best to bring you these numbers the morning after the game.