Mercifully, the first half came to an end. When things are great, this writing thing can be a lot of fun. When things are going bad, this gets to be more and more of a chore. To that end, Josh surely had the most fun of the three “daily” writers, getting to cover the minor leagues where some good things are happening. Al then had it worst as he runs many, many times the number of pieces that I do. I’m spiritually right there with him when he keeps considering the possibility of a whole piece that is the Cubs lost X to Y yesterday and then leaving the rest blank.
I have to take a step back sometimes and remember that Al and the powers that be have given me a platform to write some number of words each day. If you’ve followed along with me through the years, you were here for a lot of 2,000 word plus pieces. These days, I try to be concise. I know that right in this moment, Cubs baseball leans more towards frustrating than fun and so no one is particularly looking for 2,000 words on how awful the team was yesterday.
This is a lot of words to say that Al, Josh and I will all enjoy a lighter week of writing. This pause is a bit of a reset. Of course, Al will have a ton of content for you during the break as he always does. But for a few days, we can get a breather. Enjoy it gentlemen, you two have helped shape my Cubs fandom over the years and I’m proud to occupy space alongside the both of you.
That breather will be a little more upbeat heading into the break on a win. Sure, the wins and losses don’t have a ton of value at this point. The playoffs are long gone, 81 wins ain’t gonna happen. 71 wins is probably a reach at this point. But, none of us really wants to see the Cubs chasing futility marks. There isn’t enough upside to the number one pick to make it palatable to just keep losing.
The Cubs played better baseball the last three plus weeks. For a while there, they were treading water and then the nine game losing streak came. But, unlike the earlier section of games, they were no longer getting blown out with any frequency. The Cubs finished the first half winning nine of 23 games. There was an eight run loss, a six run loss, a three run loss (in extras). Beyond that, every game was either a win or a loss by two or less. The team stayed in games, they just didn’t have the weapons to get over the hump.
Let’s take a look at the guys who made the contributions to the win on Sunday. As I’ve been doing, when two performances are close, I’m highlighting the guy who I expect to be around longer.
- Nico Hoerner continues to hit. He easily earns my nod as best Cub not invited to the All-Star game. With honorable mentions to David Robertson and Keegan Thompson. Nico had three more hits on Sunday and drove in a run.
- Ian Happ had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
- I don’t know where he’ll be next year, but Steven Brault faced five batters and recorded four outs in a one run ball game.
And now, we turn our attention the last Heroes and Goats prior to the All-Star break.
Game 92, July 17: Cubs 3, Mets 2 (35-57)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Nico Hoerner (.256). 3-4, RBI, K
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.168). 1-4, R, 2K
- Sidekick: David Robertson (.165). IP (3 batters), H (Sv 13)
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.150). 0-3, 2K
- Goat: Nelson Velazquez (-.130). 0-3, 2K
- Kid: Frank Schwindel (-.080). 0-4, DP
WPA Play of the Game: In a 2-2 game in the eighth inning, Nico Hoerner batted with a runner on second and two outs. He delivered a game-tying, RBI single. (.278)
*Mets Play of the Game: It was 1-1 in the fifth with runners on first and third when Pete Alonso batted with two outs against Adrian Sampson. Alonso continued an excellent series with an RBI-single. (.139)
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 5/Bottom 5)
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.
- David Robertson +18.5
- Nico Hoerner +18
- Christopher Morel +17
- Scott Effross +15
- Seiya Suzuki +11.5
- Kyle Hendricks/Matt Swarmer -7
- Andrelton Simmons -8
- Daniel Norris -9.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
- Yan Gomes -16
Up Next: On Friday night, the Cubs open the second half against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Justin Steele (3-6, 4.15) gets the start for the Cubs against Philly righthander Kyle Gibson (5-3, 4.35). Heroes and Goats will return Saturday morning with a recap of the action.