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2022 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Games 53 and 54

The Cubs split their doubleheader with the Cardinals.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

You’ll pardon me if this Heroes and Goats remains a little bit on the lean side. I’ve been awake 22 hours now and this piece is the last thing standing between me and my hotel bed. Hopefully, the remainder of the week will be business as usual. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it is a light week for baseball.

The Cubs split two games on Saturday. They’ve split four games in this series and eight games on this homestand. I think if I expected this team to be a postseason team, this homestand would be a frustrating one to this point. But I’m pretty clear that if there was a time before this season entered “wait ‘til next season” territory, it passed quite some time ago.

Baseball is different than some of the other major team sports. The draft helps, a higher draft position, more money to spend domestically and internationally all help. But training and development trump all of that. You can’t control it, but luck also has an outsized effect on your success. With all of that in the equation, it just isn’t productive to sit around rooting to lose all summer for a better draft position and the rest of that stuff. So you circle back in that analysis. Training and development trump everything.

That leads to a day like Saturday. Matt Swarmer and Caleb Kilian started that game. The story of their careers isn’t written yet. Consensus has Swarmer as a “guy,” nothing extra special. But maybe he’s a guy who can be around for a bit and find some role. That role could be fifth starter, swingman, a piece that contributes out of the pen for a few years. And here’s the thing. Some players overshoot their projection. Maybe he is a third or a fourth starter. Maybe he’s a key piece out of the pen for a long time. You can’t know. You can suspect.

For Kilian, the projection is higher. He already projects to a piece that might be of value for quite some time. Add to that players like Christopher Morel who has been here for a few weeks, and this season is about getting players like that the playing time that will be most beneficial for their longterm development. Is that a little time up here and then going back to finish their development? Or do they stick around for the remainder of the year? My priority would be getting those decisions correct. Of course, no player comes with a label like a piece of clothing that tells you how many at bats and innings that they should have at a given level or a specific level of accomplishment.

In that context, I can enjoy the doubleheader for what it was. The Cubs won one game convincingly and took the other to extra innings. For a team like the Cardinals who is looking to make one more deep run with some aging veterans, that was probably quite a bit more frustrating than it was for the Cubs. At some point you have to get back to doing much better than splitting eight games at home, regardless of the opposition, but the Cubs aren’t quite at that point in their development.

For brevity, I’m skipping three positives from each game, but allow me to tip the cap to Matt Swarmer, David Robertson and Christopher Morel. Two of them are “next year” guys and all three of them did a terrific job of putting the Cubs in a position to win.

Game 53, June 4: Cubs 6, Cardinals 1 (23-30)

Fangraphs

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

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Matt Swarmer (.273). 6IP (22 batters), 2H, 2BB, R, 5K (W 1-0)
  • Hero: Frank Schwindel (.237). 3-5. HR. 2RBI, R, K
  • Sidekick: Rafael Ortega (.090). 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB, K

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.123). 0-4, BB, R, DP
  • Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.085). 0-5, 2K
  • Kid: Brandon Hughes (-.031). ⅓ IP (3 batters), 2H, K

WPA Play of the Game: Frank Schwindel’s solo homer with one out in the fifth made it 2-0. (.111)

*Cardinals Play of the Game: With first and second and only one out in the fourth, the Cubs were leading by one and looking to add when Willson Contreras grounded into a double play. (.086)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of Game 1?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Matt Swarmer
    (104 votes)
  • 13%
    Frank Schwindel
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Rafael Ortega
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (2 votes)
124 votes total Vote Now

Game 54, June 4: Cardinals 7 at Cubs 4 (23-31)

Fangraphs

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

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: David Robertson (.370). 2⅓ IP (10 batters), 3H, 4K
  • Hero: Christopher Morel (.169). 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R
  • Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.111). 2-4, 2B, BB, 2RBI

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Michael Rucker (-.455). 0IP (4 batters), 3H, BB, 4R (3ER), WP (L 0-1)

*This is now the third-lowest WPA by a Cub this season.

  • Goat: Andrelton Simmons (-.213). 0-2, DP, K
  • Kid: Patrick Wisdom (-.196). 0-4, BB, R, 2K, DP

WPA Play of the Game: With runners on first and seconds with no outs and the game tied in the tenth, Michael Rucker allowed a two-run double to Brendan Donovan. (.323)

*Cubs Play of the Game: With two outs, runners on first and second and the Cubs trailing by one in the 6th, a Christopher Morel double tied the game. (.203)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of Game 2?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    David Robertson
    (46 votes)
  • 52%
    Christopher Morel
    (57 votes)
  • 4%
    Jason Heyward
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments
    (1 vote)
109 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.

  • Nico Hoerner +12
  • Willson Contreras +11.5
  • Keegan Thompson +10
  • Kyle Hendricks -9
  • Patrick Wisdom -11.5
  • Jason Heyward -13.5

Up Next: The fifth and final game of this series on Sunday. Justin Steele (1-5, 5.40) is scheduled for the Cubs. Adam Wainwright (5-4, 2.75) will go for the Cardinals.