Well, hopefully everyone had a happy Father’s Day. I suspect for at least a few hours, the Cubs didn’t. One of the few good things was that at least it was a relatively short execution. The game came in at under three hours and as Al noted, all three games against Atlanta over the weekend were played in under three hours. No reason to drag out the inevitable.
This was the kind of game that really doesn’t generate a lot to talk about. There was very little good as we’ll see below when I try to find three positives from this one. There wasn’t much bad. We’ve talked about Kyle Hendricks and his struggles. We’re in a bit of a tough spot with Kyle. At this point, it seems that either A) there is something physically wrong with him, which obviously you hate to see. Or B) his career is on a rapidly deteriorating trajectory. That’s a horrible scenario. So does that make us morbidly root for A?
I’ve said my piece on David Ross. There isn’t a lot the manager can do when talent finds its level and the really good team crushes the really bad team. Any amount of aggressive managing is going to be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Not even a Winston Churchill or William Wallace level speech is going to overcome that talent gap when the Braves are clicking.
And so, another loss, the 41st such occurrence of the season. For those who haven’t done the math, if this Cubs team played the remainder of their schedule at .500, they’d finish with 89 losses. There are a lot of Reds games and some Pirates games in there, all of the games with the Nationals, etc. Suffice is to say that while I’d view that as improbable, it’s not impossible, particularly with some improved health in the second half.
Even spotting the 25-41 start and as negative as I’ve been about this team, I’d probably set the over under at 96 losses right now. At 96 losses, that would mean the team played these first 46 games at a .378 winning percentage and the final 96 at a .427 clip. I don’t love it looking at the math. But I’m sticking with it for two reasons. 1) I do think the remainder of the schedule is a bit easier than what’s been played so far and 2) I’ll keep reiterating that it’s really hard to sustain losing when there is so much inertia back to the middle.
So I’ve given you the math and I’m going to give you a bonus poll today. Over or under 96 losses?
Over or under 96 losses?
This poll is closed
Let’s try to find three positives from Sunday’s loss.
- Adrian Sampson. I do not know how much of a look he will get. You never read too much into the back half of a lopsided game when both teams are leaving town afterwards, particularly when the game is played on a holiday. All of the disclaimers set, Sampson pitched 4⅔ innings, facing only 15 batters and striking out five of them. The Cubs will have a rested bullpen heading to Pittsburgh.
- Ian Happ had two hits and a walk. I don’t want to be this guy, but this is now the third blowout I can remember this year where Ian has been on base several times in a lopsided loss. He’s had a good season in all situations, to be sure.
- Alfonso Rivas gets the final spot. No other Cub reached base more than once and no one had an extra base hit. I nod to Rivas because his was in only three plate appearances.
And now, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats where we’ll find that this one was bad enough that we have an Anti-Hero appearance. It’s been dubbed an Anti-Hero when one or more players reach the Hero side of the podiums despite having a negative WPA. This one was over in a hurry and so that can happen.
Game 66, June 19: Braves 6 at Cubs 0 (25-41)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Adrian Sampson (.022). 4⅔ IP (15 batters), H, 5K
- Hero: Alfonso Rivas (.012). 1-3, K
- Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (-.003). 0-3, BB, 2K
- Billy Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.270). 4⅓ IP (22 batters), 8H, BB, 6R, 6K (L 2-6)
- Goat: Christopher Morel (-.060). 0-4, K
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.057). 1-4
WPA Play of the Game: With two on and two out in the top of the first Travis d’Arnaud hit a three-run homer. That was pretty much game at that point. (.246)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With two on and two out in the third, Kyle Hendricks struck out d’Arnaud. (.035)
One H&G note: Sampson is the 40th different Cub to score points for the season (46 players have appeared for the Cubs so far). They have a very long way to go to match last year’s 65 different players that scored points. Trades will happen, but it is hard to imagine this team approaching that record.
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 +13.5
- Christopher Morel +14
- David Robertson +11.5
- Patrick Wisdom -9.5
- Kyle Hendricks -10
- Jason Heyward -10.5
Up Next: The Cubs start a weeklong road trip, after which they’ll receive their first day off since a rainout contributed to rare back-to-back days off in season on June 8 and 9. The first four games are against the Pirates. The Pirates are 26-39 and in third place ahead of the Cubs. If the Cubs somehow manage to take three of four, they can move into third place.
Caleb Kilian (0-1, 8.00) will get another look in the rotation. There’s nowhere to go but up really for this promising prospect. Hopefully, he’ll get his feet under him and we can get a good look at him. We’re all well aware not to place too much stock in won/loss records. JT Brubaker (0-7, 4.50) certainly wishes you wouldn’t.
As strange as it is to say, by virtue of two wins against the Braves over the weekend, the Cubs are playing better than the Pirates right now. I believe Kilian will bounce back and the Cubs will pick up a win in the opener.