This Cubs team has gotten a lot more fun to follow. I remember being excited about the Cubs bringing in Drew Smyly a few years back while he was working his way back from injury. Of course, at the time, the Cubs were overflowing with pitching options and Drew never even got a look with the big league club. This time around, he’s gotten a nice run in the rotation, despite some time lost to a different injury. Drew has had a pretty solid year when healthy and I imagine the Cubs will have competition to sign him if he turns down his end of the mutual option on his contract.
Drew had help getting this one into the win column. Three relievers combined to record the final 11 outs of the game while allowing only two hits and no walks. The offense included three different players scoring a run, one of which drove in two runs, and a fourth player contributed with an RBI.
A good team doesn’t rely on one or two players, but can get contributions up and down the roster. Certainly, no one is confusing the Cubs with a good team right now. But, I have to be at least a little impressed at the corner that has been turned. This team is getting contributions from a number of directions and that’s enabling this team to be much more competitive than it had been earlier in the season.
That depth and balance is about to get tested. The Cubs start a stretch of 15 games in 14 days (and 18 in 18 days with a single day off) against playoff hopefuls on Thursday. This next stretch should either bury the Cubs on their way to a 95+ loss season or really show that things are changing for this team. Even if it costs the team a few slots in next year’s draft, I think there is at least nominal value in some of these young Cubs getting a chance to gel at the big league level and win some games. It can’t hurt either to show prospective free agents (and management for that matter) that the arrow appears to be starting to point upwards.
Let’s look at some of the positive performances that led to this win.
- I’m going to start with Rowan Wick. He bounced back from a rough outing Tuesday night with a perfect inning on Wednesday. He recorded his eighth save in the process.
- I may be falling in love with Franmil Reyes in record time. He had a pair of doubles and scored the run that ended up being decisive. It’s too soon to look at numbers for anything more than humor value, but Franmil is off to a scorching start to his Cubs career.
- With all due respect to P.J. Higgins for his two-run homer, I’m giving the third spot to Steven Brault. He was activated before the game and got right into the action with two scoreless innings of relief. He was the winning pitcher and nabbed a Superhero award for his efforts, the first time he’s appeared in this feature.
Now we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Wednesday’s win.
Game 116, August 17: Cubs 3 at Nationals 2 (49-67)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Steven Brault (.252). 2IP (7 batters), H, WP, 2K (W 1-0)
- Hero: P.J. Higgins (.219). 1-3, HR, 2RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Rowan Wick (.204). IP (3 batters) - Sv (8)
- Billy Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.155). 0-4, K
- Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.104). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.094). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: P.J. Higgins hit a two-run homer with a runner on a two outs in the fifth off of ex-Cub prospect Cory Abbott. That gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. (.273)
*Nationals Play of the Game: Lane Thomas doubled off of Steven Brault with one out in the eighth, the Nationals trailing by one. (.119)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Franmil Reyes (2-4, 2-2B, R)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments below)
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.
- Nico Hoerner +23.5
- David Robertson +22.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +15
- Patrick Wisdom +10.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel -9.5
- Yan Gomes -10
- Jason Heyward -15.5
- Rafael Ortega -16.5
Up Next: The Cubs head to Baltimore for the makeup game of an earlier rainout. Adrian Sampson (0-3, 3.88) starts for the Cubs. He’ll face Spenser Watkins (4-2, 4.23). The Orioles are 61-56 but in fourth place in the very strong AL East. They are hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They’ve got their work cut out for them and, obviously, for Baltimore Thursday’s game is extremely important.