Baseball is not really that complicated a sport. Up to the All-Star break, the Cubs were 35-57. They had a team ERA of 4.58. Since the break, the Cubs are 20-15 and they headed into Saturday’s game with an ERA after the break of 3.22. It’s like a switch was flipped. Prior to Saturday night’s game, there was a full point difference between the first half and second half ERAs for relievers (4.30 to 3.30). That’s a pretty striking change.
Drew Smyly and his rotation mates say hold our beer. That’s because Smyly and his mates are over a point and a half better (4.83 to 3.17). That’s also pretty striking. Smyly, of course, did nothing to spoil that with six strong innings, allowing no runs. I was actually a little surprised that Smyly didn’t head back out for the seventh. He didn’t, though, and the game totally got away from the bullpen, leading to the 72nd loss of the season for the Cubs.
This wasn’t all on the bullpen though. You don’t win baseball games when you don’t score runs. Period, end of story. Friday night, the Cubs managed two hits, just four days after being held to one hit. The Cubs managed five hits. They drew four walks. Given that three of the hits were actually doubles, a little sequencing could have produced at least a run or two in this one and have put some pressure on the Brewers. But, Brandon Woodruff is pretty good and he was very good Saturday night.
Even with two contact guys in Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal in the lineup, the Cubs like most teams, still go through dry spells. No doubt they are facing some solid pitchers, but there’s little question that there simply isn’t enough thunder in the lineup right now. If the Cubs believe they can compete next year, and there is certainly at least an inkling that they can, they are going to have to add some offensive firepower. I don’t think you ever pass an opportunity to add quality pitching at the right price, but offense is the biggest weakness in my eyes right now. Particularly, at least one or two really qualified run producers.
Sunday’s a quick turn around, so let’s get right to the three stars from this game.
- Drew Smyly - 24 batters, 18 outs. Drew drops his season ERA to 3.24 over 89 innings of work.
- Seiya Suzuki - Two hits, both doubles. He also drew a walk. He has a line of .248/.322/.410. Certainly a bit disappointing, particularly after his torrid start to the season.
- Nico Hoerner had a hit, a walk and a stolen base in four plate appearances.
And now we look at the Heroes and Goats from Saturday’s loss.
Game 127, August 27: Brewers 7, Cubs 0 (55-72)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Drew Smyly (.355). 6IP (24 batters), 5H, BB, 2K, WP
- Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.038). 2-3, 2-2B, BB
- Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.034). 1-3, BB, K, SB
- Billy Goat: Rowan Wick (-.388). ⅓ IP (7 batters), 4H, BB, 4R (3ER), K (L 4-7)
- Goat: Christopher Morel (-.138). 0-3, 3K
- Kid: Franmil Reyes (-.136). 0-4, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: With runners on first and second and no outs in a scoreless seventh inning, Jace Peterson attempted a sacrifice bunt to third. Christopher Morel made an error and the big inning was imminent. (.175)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Nick Madrigal led off the game with a double. (.059)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Somebody 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 +18.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +14
- Patrick Wisdom +13.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel/Rowan Wick -9.5
- Yan Gomes -13
- Jason Heyward -15.5
- Rafael Ortega -16.5
Up Next: The third and final game of the series and the final game of the season between the Cubs and Brewers. Even with Saturday’s loss, the Cubs have already clinched the season series, having won 10 of 18 games. They’ll seek an 11th victory and to further damage the playoff hopes of the Brewers on Sunday. Adrian Sampson (1-4, 4.04) starts for the Cubs and Eric Lauer (9-5, 3.44) goes for the Brewers.