The Cubs’ loss on Sunday drops them to a season low 24 games under .500. That’s the story, really. After a nice run of games coming out of the All-Star break, this team was showing signs of what it maybe could be. But, ultimately, a lack of healthy, major league quality pitching combined with a lack of elite offensive talent has combined to sink this team to a new low.
Both problems were on display Sunday night. The Cubs managed just two runs despite 12 hits. Incredibly, the Cubs did get four hits out of their leadoff hitter. If someone can explain to me why this team so frequently leads off a hitter with a sub .600 OPS, I’m all ears. I’ll repeat that, Zach McKinstry had a-four hit game. He’s only gone over the 100 plate appearance mark for the year, combined between the Cubs and Dodgers, in the last few days. Four hits raised his season OPS to .582. Among those four hits was a double and a triple. Prior to the game, he had a .499 OPS and hadn’t had a hit since August 31. In the interim, he was 0-for-15 with three walks and a sacrifice bunt. Zach should never bat anywhere but ninth when he plays until he earns more than that.
Wade Miley had a good start. He was up to five innings and he allowed only a single run. Wade wouldn’t have been enough to change the outcome of this season, but he sure would have improved it. He does not appear to be finished. I don’t know if he’d want to stay around here for another year, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to the Cubs making him a reasonable offer.
As they did five days earlier, the Cubs paired Miley with rookie Hayden Wesneski. The first time worked brilliantly. The second time, not so much. Hayden recorded 11 outs. But along the way he allowed four hits and a walk. Two of the hits were home runs and that led to three runs. I remain excited about this addition. I have no doubt that Hayden will arrive for good at some point in 2023, be it opening day or some time later in the season. I also am not surprised that there were some growing pains. One of the marks of every good pitcher is how they grow and learn from the struggles. There are always struggles.
I’ve spoiled myself on the three positives as we’ve already covered two of them.
- Zach McKinstry had a four-hit game that included a double and a triple. He scored once. I’m frustrated with the way the Cubs used Zach but that does not mean a four-hit game shouldn’t be the top spot here. Also, when your leadoff man has four hits and seven total bases, you should score more than two runs. My biggest problem beyond the way the Cubs use him is that the infield picture for the Cubs is quite crowded. I don’t see where he has a path to regular at bats and if he can be unlocked, I’m not sure that’s going to happen without regular playing time.
- Wade Miley faced 19 batters over five innings. He allowed four hits and a walk. Not to in any way be mean to Hayden Wesneski, but the two pitchers each allowed four hits and a walk. Miley’s qualify as scattered (one run allowed) and Wesneski got lit up (three runs allowed). It’s a short walk many times from the top to the bottom.
- With the offense producing 12 hits, there were a lot of guys I could choose here but I have to go with Nico Hoerner who had two at bats before leaving with an injury and had two hits, one of which was a double. Hopefully the injury is relatively minor and he can get back in there soon. Nico has been the star of this team this year. On a side note, Christopher Morel replaced him in the lineup and had a single and a walk. The shortstop position reached base in all four plate appearances in this one.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats and see how WPA scored this one.
Game 140, September 11: Giants 4 at Cubs 2 (58-82)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Rafael Ortega (.134). 2-3, RBI, SB, DP
- Hero: Wade Miley (.129). 5IP (19 batters), 4H, BB, R, 5K
- Sidekick: Christopher Morel (.059). 1-1, BB
- Billy Goat: Hayden Wesneski (.226). 3⅔ IP (16 batters), 4H, BB, 3R, 3K (L 1-1)
- Goat: David Bote (-.197). 1-4, 2K, DP
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.115). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Thairo Estrada his a solo homer off of Hayden Wesneski leading off the seventh inning. That gave the Giants a 2-1 lead. (.166)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Rafael Ortega batted with a runner on second and two outs in the fifth inning, the Cubs trailing by one. He singled and tied the game and also advanced to second on an error. (.160)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Zach McKinstry (4-5, 2B, 3B, R)
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 +17.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +15
- Patrick Wisdom +13.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel -9.5
- Rowan Wick -10.5
- Rafael Ortega -12.5
- Yan Gomes -13
- Jason Heyward -15.5
Up Next: The Cubs are in New York for three games against the Mets. The Cubs were swept by the Mets in a three game series in July at Wrigley Field. The Mets are 89-52 and are only a 1½ games ahead of the defending World Series champion Braves in the NL East. So this series has quite a lot of importance for them. Javier Assad (0-1, 2.93) starts for the Cubs. The Mets will go with Chris Bassitt (13-7, 3.24).
Writers Note: As I’ve noted previously, I’m having a surgical procedure today. I do not know when I will return to writing or if some of my writing will be abbreviated. Al has offered to pinch hit for me if need be. We’ll play that by ear and see how things go.