As the Cubs played better (repeat, better, not necessarily “well”), there has been a general theme. The pitching has been better after the All-Star break. How much better? As a staff, the team has a 3.65 ERA since the All-Star game. They had a 4.58 before it. Probably not surprising that difference isn’t coming from the bullpen (4.30 first half/4.31 second half), given the trades of four of the top relievers at the end of July. That difference comes from the rotation. There the difference is striking (4.83/3.16).
Tuesday night’s win followed that theme. Adrian Sampson, who will get my top star of the night, threw six innings and allowed eight hits, one walk and one run. He struck out three. Adrian is making a really nice push for innings on someone’s staff in 2023. Some of these starts are definitely against teams largely playing out the string, but certainly not all of them. And, just because a team is looking more to next year than this one doesn’t mean that team isn’t trying. Good results are far from automatic, even against the worst teams in the league.
My second star has to be Tuesday’s winning pitcher, Adbert Alzolay. He faced six batters and retired them all, striking out the final two that he faced. Adbert appears to be an intriguing arm out of the pen. Our own Al Yellon is not the only credible person in Cubdom who thinks that’s the best place for Adbert.
With due respect to Esteban Quiroz reaching base three times in four plate appearances, my third star of the night has to go to David Bote. David drove in both Cubs runs, one with a solo homer and the other on a sac fly. I know that he is facing a real roster crunch for next season. But A) under a reasonable contract, B) still plays reasonable to decent infield defense at at least two positions and C) don’t look now, but has nine hits in his last 31 plate appearances, including two homers and a double.
I’ve had to read arguments for so many players through the years about if only so and so got consistent playing time. Well, David is playing a lot with injuries all across the infield. The recent results? He’s hit safely in seven of eight with two multi-hit games. Can he be productive off of the bench, getting 25-30 plate appearances a month when everyone is healthy? That’s a fair and open question. But I wouldn’t just jettison him before I had to. To be fair, I share the same affliction as the Cubs front office. I’d bend myself into pretzels trying to never give up something for nothing.
Discuss amongst yourselves. Meanwhile, I’m going to go to the numbers and see how WPA saw this win for the Cubs.
Game 148, September 20: Cubs 2 at Marlins 1 (63-85)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Adbert Alzolay (.220). 2IP (6 batters), 2K (W 1-1)
- Hero: Brandon Hughes (.188). IP (4 batters), H, K (Sv 6)
- Sidekick: Esteban Quiroz (.165). 2-3, HBP
- Billy Goat: Nelson Velazquez (-.178). 0-4, 3K
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.157). 0-4, K
- Kid: Alfonso Rivas (-.124). 0-4, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: It was 2-1 in the ninth inning when Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a double off of Brandon Hughes. (.243)
*Cubs Play of the Game: David Bote’s solo homer leading off the seventh tied the game 1-1. (.205)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Adrian Sampson (6IP, 20 batters, 8H, BB, R, 3K)
David Bote (1-3, HR, 2RBI, R, SF)
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 +17.5
- Scott Effross +17
- Christopher Morel +16
- Justin Steele/Willson Contreras/Drew Smyly +10
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel -9.5
- Nelson Velazquez -10
- Rowan Wick -10.5
- Rafael Ortega -11.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
Up Next: The third and final game between the two teams in this series. Marcus Stroman (4-7, 3.76) looks to continue a strong September to close out the season. He’ll face Jesus Lazardo (3-7, 3.75).