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2022 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 51

The Cubs win their third straight game.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, when you win three games in a row, that’s called a winning streak. In fairness, the Cubs aren’t yet in uncharted territory. This marks the third different time in 51 games that they’ve won three or more in a row. Your mileage may vary, but this is the most surprising of the three. I just didn’t expect the Cubs to be able to hang with the Brewers as well as they have (actually in all 10 games against them so far) or the Cardinals. There’s something to be said about familiarity against division foes, I imagine.

Thursday night, the Cubs actually got what qualifies as a subpar start based on the standards Keegan Thompson has set for himself in 2022. Three runs in just 5⅓ innings is not bad against a very good Cardinals team. But to Keegan’s credit, he’s simply been better than that. And yet, the offense had a very good night against Cardinals rookie Matthew Liberatore and so Keegan picked up his six win of the year. Yeah, sure, we’ve moved away from the fixation on wins. But I grew up when they were treated with reverence and I’m never going to not enjoy a Cubs pitcher who is 6-0 under any circumstances. I could not be happier for Keegan and how this season has started for him.

The Cubs offense was balanced as they had 12 hits and drew five walks. I continue to enjoy watching not only guys like Thompson but also P.J. Higgins and Christopher Morel. A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness of other players on the roster has given these three more of an opportunity than would have been expected by most. And all three of them are making contributions. In a season where 90+ losses are expected, these are the kind of things you look for.

Are any of them going to break out and be stars? I don’t know. But all three appear to at least be showing that they can be a swing man on a pitching staff, a backup catcher and a super utility player. So many players come and so many go. Most are only footnotes in team history. But these three all look to be increasing their chance to hang around, have some fun, make some money and contribute at the big league level. Hat tips all around.

With that, we turn our attention to three positives from Thursday night’s win.

  1. Clint Frazier. The guy is on base every time you look up right now. Maybe, just maybe Clint will be this year’s former prospect who finally got healthy and got an opportunity and made it work.
  2. Scott Effross. Usually I’m a sucker for a perfect inning out of the pen. But, with this mini winning streak, some of the back end of the game relievers weren’t going to be available last night. With the Cardinals coming back over and over, the two scoreless innings were a big lift. Effross is another one of those guys who has seen his role grow and taken advantage of it.
  3. Willson Contreras. Having a favorite Cub these last half dozen years or so has felt like blasphemy. But I’m not uncomfortable in saying Willson has been one of mine. I love the way he plays the game and the energy he brings. So I’m loving him really putting everything together and being the kind of monster he can be. Kudos to not being distracted by the trade rumors that are already starting.

And now, let’s turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats for last night’s game.

Game 51, June 2: Cubs 7, Cardinals 5 (22-29)

Fangraphs

Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Frank Schwindel (.167). 3-4, HR, 2B, SF, 2RBI, 2R
  • Hero: Scott Effross (.147). 2IP (7 batters), 2H, 2K
  • Sidekick: Clint Frazier (.093). 1-1, 2BB, RBI

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.076). 0-4, BB, RBI, K
  • Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.013). 1-5
  • Sidekick: Jason Heyward (-.011). 0-1

WPA Play of the Game: Willson Contreras was just the second Cub batter of the game, following a leadoff Christopher Morel double. He homered and pushed the Cubs out to a 2-0 lead. (.127)

*Cardinals Play of the Game: Nolan Arenado faced Keegan Thompson with two outs and a runner on second in the third inning, the Cubs leading 2-1. He delivered an RBI single and then advanced to second on the throw home. (.114)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Frank Schwindel
    (105 votes)
  • 6%
    Scott Effross
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Clint Frazier
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (5 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now

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 +12
  • Keegan Thompson +10
  • Kyle Hendricks -9
  • Patrick Wisdom -10.5
  • Jason Heyward -12.5

Up Next: Game two of this five-game series is Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman (2-4, 3.95) has pitched better than his numbers. Hopefully he’ll carry the momentum forward and the bats can do some damage. They’ll have their work cut out for them against Miles Mikolas (3-3, 2.67).

NOTE: I will be traveling starting very early Saturday morning. It is possible that one or more editions of Heroes and Goats (including Friday’s recap) will be delayed or abridged. As always, I’ll do my best to bring you these numbers the morning after the game. Right now, I’m expecting to provide a numbers-only review of Friday’s game.