I’ll remind you because I keep reminding myself. Your team is never as good as it looks during a winning streak or as bad as it does during a losing streak. That doesn’t make is any less frustrating that this team was 11-6 and 12-7 and now settled for a 13-13 month (1-0 in March). With three straight one run losses to finish the month, the Cubs are 2-5 in one run games. The Cubs are 7-11 against the National League.
A couple of weeks ago I asked what was going to happen when the stolen bases slowed down and teams started to execute game plans better. I don’t know if that’s responsible for dropping seven of 10. But I don’t know if it isn’t responsible. I also don’t know if Matt Mervis and Christopher Morel would flip a light switch for the offense. That hasn’t been my hill to die on. But I certainly can’t tell you that during a stretch of close losses that they wouldn’t have helped. It’s hard to imagine that both wouldn’t produce more than Eric Hosmer at this point in his career. Or Edwin Rios. It’s arguable that they’d outproduce Trey Mancini. Though at least we are seeing a bit of a hot stretch from Mancini.
Unfortunately, on Sunday Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson were both less effective than they’ve generally been this season. With the margin of error diminished right now, that was enough for the Marlins to complete the sweep. I’d love to say that the offense was overmatched. But it’s a broken record. The Cubs did have nine hits, a pair of walks and a hit batter. I wish someone would put together a plot chart. Once again, I feel relatively confident that the expected value on 12 baserunners, particularly when at least one was a homer, is probably five or six.
The Cubs now head to Washington for four. They aren’t going to be able to just throw their hats on the field and leave with three wins. The “expected” win total of the Nationals shows them better than they’ve been. They’ve split their last 10 games and so they’ll be looking to start digging out of a 3-11 start at home. Don’t be surprised if they manage a split. Especially with Justin Steele the one starter not appearing in the series.
Let’s try to find three positives from Sunday’s loss.
- Dansby Swanson was the only Cub with multiple hits. He had a pair of them and drove in a run. I’ll hang my hat on Dansby being a slow starter and try not to worry about a .347 SLG to date.
- Michael Fulmer faced three batters and retired all of them. I’m going to be a broken record until proven otherwise. Fulmer’s problem so far has been a Dodger problem. He’s been effective otherwise.
- Cody Bellinger added another solo homer and a sac fly, driving in two of the three runs. If we’re going to note that Swanson is a slow starter, then I’ll caution that Cody is a fast starter. His best months oddly are April, then June, then August. So expect ups and downs. For his career his OPS has been best when he bats fifth. That’s where he batted Sunday and I think it would be best going forward to slot him in there and then drop Patrick Wisdom behind him as he was on Sunday.
Game 27, April 30: Marlins 4, Cubs 3 ( 14-13)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Edwin Rios (.094). 1-1, BB, R
- Hero: Cody Bellinger (.087). 1-3, HR, 2RBI, R, SF
- Sidekick: Michael Fulmer (.085). IP, 3 batters
- Billy Goat: Keegan Thompson (-.284). ⅓ IP, 3 batters, H, BB, R
- Goat: Nelson Velazquez (-.189). 0-2
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.152). 1-5, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Jesus Sanchez batted with a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the eighth and the score tied. He singled, sending the runner to third and setting up the eventual winning run. (.184)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Cody Bellinger homered leading off the sixth inning to give the Cubs a one-run lead. (.171)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Dansby Swanson (2-5, RBI)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Patrick Wisdom (Superhero 18-8)
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.
- Justin Steele +10
- Marcus Stroman/Ian Happ +8
- Mark Leiter Jr. +7.5
- Keegan Thompson +5
- Michael Rucker/Luis Torens/Trey Mancini -4
- Julian Merryweather -4.5
- Nico Hoerner/Michael Fulmer -6
- Seiya Suzuki -6.5
Up Next: The Cubs open a four game series against the Nationals. Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.21, 28 IP) gets the start in the opener. In his last three starts, he has a pair of wins and has allowed three earned runs on nine hits and three walks over 18⅓ innings. The Nationals have started the season 10-17. But somehow, MacKenzie Gore (3-1, 3.00, 27 IP) has 30 percent of his teams wins. Gore was fantastic last time out, picking up the win with one run over six innings and 10 strikeouts against the Mets in New York. For Gore, he’ll be making just his 19th career start. The former third overall pick in the draft for the Padres was arguably the biggest piece in the Juan Soto trade.