The Cubs finally played well enough to beat the Dodgers on Friday night, for a while, anyway. Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson was even more dominant than Tony Gonsolin had been the night before. But the Cubs did break through and score a run in the fifth and then two in the sixth. Let’s be clear, when the talent differential is as wide as it is between two teams like this, you do expect the better team to come off the mat fighting at some point.
They did come off the mat. The frustrating part is they only were able to complete the comeback because the Cubs didn’t play well in the back half of the game. A dropped fly ball and David Robertson having control issues for the second time in three appearances was the difference. Were it not for the miscue and the free passes, this game never would have seen extra innings.
The 10th inning part of this was an afterthought, really. A good Dodgers reliever shut the Cubs down in the top of the inning and the Dodgers quickly executed and drove in the bonus runner for the win. As much as I’ve been frustrated at times by Rowan Wick, he doesn’t even register on my radar in this one.
The news wasn’t all bad. We’re doing our best to focus on player development for guys who we expect to be Cubs for a while, right? That’s basically our assignment. The wins will be fun when they come and we don’t have to stop rooting for them. But we’ll keep our sanity by caring about the player development. So let’s go to three positives and find some player development.
- Keegan Thompson. With as long as the Cubs kept him in the bullpen, even after he had a strong start to the season and starters were dropping like flies, I have to wonder if they had decided to move on from the idea of him as a starter. Regardless what the plans are or were, he’s doing his best to put a stranglehold on a rotation spot. He pitched into the sixth allowing a pair of hits and a walk against one of the best teams in baseball. Standout performance.
- Nico Hoerner. He started the scoring with a solo homer in the fifth inning. Finally having a relatively healthy season and thus being in the lineup most days, Hoerner is showing how much value he has. Power isn’t where his game is, he’s certainly more of a line drive hitter, but it really enhances his profile when a few of those line drives find the seats. As with most players, you’d expect his power to develop a bit over time.
- Ian Happ probably doesn’t qualify as player development. He’s been around for a while and already had a star turn in 2020. That season certainly holds a weird place in history because of all of the rules changes that needed to occur just to get through a reduced schedule. But I don’t think that means we should throw out the results either. Ian was an MVP candidate well into the season before a slump and an injury derailed his chances of at least being a finalist. Ian had a two-run double in the sixth inning.
And now we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Friday night’s late night loss.
Game 84, July 8: Dodgers 4, Cubs 3 (34-50)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Keegan Thompson (.212). 5⅔ IP (22 batters), 2H, BB, R (0ER), 8K, HBP
- Hero: Mychal Givens (.137). IP (4 batters), BB, K
- Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.106). 1-4, HR, RBI, R
- Billy Goat: David Robertson (-.309). IP (6 batters), H, 2BB, R
- Goat: Rowan Wick (-.194). 0IP (2 batters), H, BB, R (0ER) - L (1-4)
- Kid: Yan Gomes (-.166). 0-4
WPA Play of the Game: Will Smith batted with runners on first and second with no outs in the tenth inning. He singled, the winning run scored and that was it. (.189)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Nico Hoerner’s homer leading off the fifth broke a scoreless tie. (.146)
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.
- Christopher Morel +15
- David Robertson +14.5
- Nico Hoerner +14
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Jason Heyward -16.5
- Yan Gomes -17
Up Next: The third of four games between these two teams with another late night start this evening. The Cubs intend to activate Marcus Stroman from the injured list to start this game. Marcus has had his first season with the Cubs marred with missed time and ineffectiveness. He’ll look to hit the reset button. He’ll be matched up with Clayton Kershaw (5-2, 2.57).