I quit playing fantasy baseball somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago. Somewhere around that time, I also quit playing Strat-O-Matic baseball. When I ceased those activities, I basically stopped paying attention with any detail as to the comings and goings of any particular roster or players. I’m overtly aware of high level things. I know the Mets and Yankees are very good and the Nationals are very bad. But, I have gaps in my knowledge. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of Franmil Reyes before, but I didn’t specifically recall him as a player. I’m vaguely aware he was a power-first player and so naturally, I picture him as a bigger guy, not particularly athletic.
While the point I’m making works for Reyes, who joined the Cubs yesterday and who will appear in H&G in his very first game. But, what inspired it was actually something that caught me way off guard. I wasn’t aware that Carl Edwards Jr. was even pitching in the major leagues. And then there he was recording the last four outs and picking up his fourth major league save. The String Bean Slinger, one of my all time favorite nicknames, of course recorded the first two of those saves as a Cub. Carl is definitely a guy who I expected big things from. Even now, he owns a 3.69 lifetime ERA. He averages 11.4 K/9 across his career. I’m frankly surprised that his numbers have held up that well and yet this is the first time I’ve bumped into him since he was traded away.
Edwards getting a save against the Cubs was bittersweet. He, like so many guys who played for the championship Cubs, is someone I will forever root for. So I was happy for him that he completed the save. But, this was also the first game since the trade deadline that I look at and think, that one is probably one the Cubs would have won. You, of course, can’t assume anything. Any strategic change can have a ripple effect on every event following that point. If you did something differently, your opponent might do something differently to counter it. All sorts of strategic decisions cascade off of any one decision.
But, you do like to think that after the Cubs plated four runs in the seventh, to overcome a 4-1 deficit, that they’d have been able to nail down the final two innings for the win. So again, with some caution, I think this was the first one that “got away” because of the trades that were made and the players that are no longer here.
This one is also different because I just don’t know if I can count a moral victory out of coming from behind against a team that almost certainly is going to blast right past 100 losses. It feels like you are definitely going to make a run at some point against a team like that. And they did. But then they let it get away, and so it marked the 65-loss mark for this team. This team seems likely to get in the vicinity of 95 losses. At least the Cubs seem further along in their rebuild than the Nationals. But then the Nats have the more recent championship, so you can decide which thing is easier to take solace in.
Let’s take a look at three performances that had positive impact on last night’s game, even in the loss.
- I have to start out with a three-hit game. That’s Zach McKinstry. Here’s an odd stat I found this morning while researching this. Zach has just 40 hits in his big league career. So a three-hit game has to be a first, right? Wrong. Despite having just 40 hits and a lifetime .206 batting average, Zach has four three-hit games. He also owns five two-hit games. So that’s 22 of his 40 career hits in multi-hit games. Thus, somewhat strangely, he’s got just 18 hits in the other 71 games in his MLB career. Weird.
- I’m going to go to the bullpen for my second key performance. Erich Uelmen faced seven batters and recorded six outs over two scoreless innings. That performance helped position the Cubs to win.
- I’ll go back now and recognize the other three-hit game. Seiya Suzuki had a big night at the plate. Big enough that he was probably going to be my top spot. Among his three hits was a solo homer and he scored two runs. I’ve got him bumped downward because he was caught stealing in the ninth inning at the worst possible time.
Now we take a look at the Heroes and Goats from last night’s loss.
Game 109, August 9: Nationals 6 at Cubs 5 (44-65)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Franmil Reyes (.165). 1-4, RBI, K
- Hero: Zach McKinstry (.144). 3-4, R, K
- Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.093). 2-5, RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Mark Leiter Jr. (-.400). 2IP (9 batters), 3H, 2R, 3K (L 2-5)
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.362). 2-5, 2B, K
- Kid: Marcus Stroman (-.213). 5IP (21 batters), 5H, 2BB, 4R, 6K
WPA Play of the Game: As is so often the case in these late, close games, there was a two-out situation that was the proverbial fork in the road. There were two outs and a runner on first in the eighth inning with the Cubs leading by one when Joey Meneses hit a two-run homer against Mark Leiter Jr. (.514) If Leiter gets that out, the Cubs almost certainly win this one.
*Cubs Play of the Game: The half inning before, that two out hitting went the other way. Franmil Reyes batted with runners on first and second and the Cubs trailing by one with two outs in the seventh. He singled and the tying run scored. (.240)
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 +22.5
- Nico Hoerner +21.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +16
- Patrick Wisdom +10.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel -9.5
- Yan Gomes -11
- Rafael Ortega -14.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
The two notable things for the cumulative scores, first, Franmil Reyes becomes the 48th different Cub to appear in H&G. Second, Frank Schwindel becomes yet another player who might have played his last game as a Cub and is near the bottom of the standings.
Up Next: Justin Steele gets the ball in the third and final game of the series. Justin is 4-7 with a 3.67 ERA. His opponent will be Josiah Gray (7-8, 4.92). This certainly looked on paper like a series that could have been a three-game sweep. Let’s see if the Cubs can at least win the final game, taking two out of three in the series and four of six on the homestand.