Put away the brooms and for now note the longest winning streak as three. The Cubs couldn’t complete the series sweep and win a fourth straight game. The offense did manage six hits and four walks. That netted them only two runs, but you’ll win a not insignificant number of games when you have 10 baserunners. It’s all about sequencing and/or the amount of speed and power your team boasts. They did have a homer that accounted for the two runs that they did score. One of the things that held the Cubs back was hitting into two double plays, thus reducing the value of the baserunners.
For contrast, the Rangers had 10 hits and two walks — just two more total. Of course, they were aided by two Cubs errors. The net difference? Six runs. Spoiler alert, the guy who taught you that walks are as good as hits lied to you. Certainly, with the bases empty a walk and a single have the same actual value. Intuitively, one might expect that the walk has a higher number of implied pitches involved. If the bases aren’t empty, I’m going to take the single in virtually every other scenario.
So, all in all, the offense wasn’t able to string together baserunners, the defense didn’t execute, and the pitching staff didn’t get the job done. That formula is going to get you beat more days than not. No surprises there. Though to be fair, I think the defense and pitching are good enough that they will steal a few games this year when the offense only manages two runs.
Looking strictly at the game played on paper, I don’t think one could have realistically assumed the Cubs would be better than 4-4. Having watched and followed the games, certainly the Cubs could have executed better in a couple of games, and they could possibly have one or two more wins. But all in all, I’m okay where the team is through the first eight games. The season schedule does not let up in the near future, so more tests lie ahead. If this team can stay near .500 over this relatively difficult stretch of games to start the year, then maybe they can hang around and be competitive. We shall see.
Let’s try to find three positives from a lopsided loss.
- Tucker Barnhart only got two plate appearances. They were both singles. It helps for Tucker to provide at least some offensive value. Honorable mention here to Luis Torrens who pinch hit for Barnhard and also had a single in his only plate appearance.
- Edwin Rios gets the second nod with his first homer of the year. He also drew a walk. If Rios is going to be on the roster, then he’s got to hit and supply power.
- In the third spot. I’m going with Julian Merryweather. Last weekend his first official appearance for the Cubs just got away. This one did not. He faced three batters and retired them all.
Now we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats.
Game 8, April 9: Rangers 8 at Cubs 2 (4-4)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Edwin Rios (.116). 1-3, HR, BB, 2RBI, R, 2K
- Hero: Tucker Barnhart (.090). 2-2
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.035). 1-3, BB, K
- Billy Goat: Jameson Taillon (-.277). 5IP (24 batters), 6H, BB, 5R (3ER), 7K, WP (0-2)
- Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.208). 0-3, BB, 2DP
- Kid: Javier Assad (-.096). 3IP (14 batters), 4H, BB, 3R, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Edwin Rios batted with a runner on first and the Cubs down 4-0 in the second inning. He homered, cutting the deficit to two. (.135)
*Rangers Play of the Game: Travis Jankowski batted with runners on the corner with no score and one out in the second inning. He doubled and the game’s first run scored. (.118)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Julian Merryweather (IP, 3 batters)
Somebody else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Justin Steele (Superhero is 6-1)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 3)
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.
- Marcus Stroman/Justin Steele +6
- Patrick Wisdom/Dansby Swanson/Ian Happ +4
- Jameson Taillon -5
- Cody Bellinger -6
- Yan Gomes -7
Up Next: The Seattle Mariners make the trip to Chicago to play the Cubs. The Mariners are off to a 4-6 start. They’ll start a face familiar to Cubs fans in Luis Castillo (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The Cubs will send lefty Drew Smyly (0-1, 11.57) to the hill. Castillo is trying to keep positive momentum for himself. Smyly will be looking to bounce back from a rough first start.