It breaks my heart every time I select one of these pictures and when I’m cropping it, there is basically an empty stadium in the background. I was certainly spoiled coming into my Cub fandom in the mid 1980s and 90s. Full houses were the norm and even when it wasn’t full, the lower bowl of the stadium was usually pretty well populated. Certainly, between ever rising ticket prices and a Nationals team relatively early in its rebuild, I get it.
This is frustrating now, but I’m going to bet the Nationals don’t finish light years from .500. There are some interesting pieces in that clubhouse. I do feel that this series is a bit more Cubs ineptitude than Nationals excellence. At the same time, if a team is bad enough, they will shoot themselves in the foot eventually and find a way to lose. The Nationals have certainly not done a lot of foot shooting in this series.
I said it a lot last year and I feel like this is the day to bust it out for the first time this year. The road to the top is not linear and there are no guarantees. There was every reason to believe over the last 60 days or so of last season that this was a team on the rise. There was nothing in the first three weeks of this season to dissuade that. And now? They’ve dropped nine of 13. They are in full tailspin right now. This vaguely reminds me of June of ‘21 when the bottom fell out on the old group after a smoking start to the season. Many of us went into that season thinking that the team wasn’t really positioned for another run and then they blew out expectations.
Until they started losing. And the losing just wouldn’t stop. Some days they’d lose one like they did Wednesday night. Some days they’d lose one like they did this past Saturday. At least there haven’t really been any blow outs in this. But night after night feeling like one play could turn it around is its own torture.
There’s a quick turn around to an early game Thursday. So we’ll get right to the three positives from Wednesday’s game.
- This one is a tough call, but I’ve got to give Ian Happ the top spot. Two hits and two walks in four plate appearances. He’s moved into the top 10 in on-base percentage.
- This should probably be 1A and not 2. Marcus Stroman threw six innings. He was a little wilder than we usually see him, walking three, but he only allowed five hits and one run. He struck out five. It’s a broken record, but he pitched well enough to win.
- I can’t decide between Seiya Suzuki or Nico Hoerner for the last spot. Seiya had two hits including the lone RBI. Nico had a walk and a hit by pitch. He stole second and scored the only run. Honorable mention to Mark Leiter Jr., four batters, two strikeouts. If you had Leiter as the Cubs’ best reliever, go to the head of the class.
Game 30, May 3: Nationals 2, Cubs 1 (15-15)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Marcus Stroman (.249). 6IP, 5H, 3BB, R, 5K
- Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.143). 2-4, RBI, K
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.128). 2-2, 2BB
- Billy Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.266). 0-2, 2BB, SB, DP
- Goat: Dansby Swanson (-.206). 0-4, K, DP
- Kid: Eric Hosmer (-.190). 0-4, 2K, DP
WPA Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom grounded into a game-ending double play with runners at the corners and one out, the Cubs down one. (.375)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Trey Mancini singled with a runner on first and no outs, the Cubs down one in the ninth. (.163)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Hayden Wesneski (Superhero 20-9)
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.
- Marcus Stroman +11
- Justin Steele +10
- Ian Happ +9
- Mark Leiter Jr. +7.5
- Drew Smyly +6
- Four Players -4
- Julian Merryweather -4.5
- Michael Fulmer -6
- Nico Hoerner -8
Up Next: The fourth and final game of the series and seventh and final game of the road trip. The Cubs will be trying to head home with two wins in each. If they don’t, they’ll head home under .500 for the first time since they won to reach .500 on April 7.
Jameson Taillon (0-2, 4.50) will come off the IL and make this start, per David Ross after Wednesday’s game. Jameson was showing signs of improvement after a rough start to the season before he suffered a mild groin injury. Someone else will have to head out to make room for him. It is very possible, perhaps even likely, that Miguel Amaya will be making what is perhaps simultaneously a long delayed and rushed debut.
The Nationals will start Patrick Corbin (1-4, 5.74, 31⅓ IP). The lefty was a second-round pick of the Dodgers way back in 2009. Patrick was the losing pitcher in each of his last two starts, allowing seven hits and three runs in each. Patrick is not the same guy who had three different 14-win seasons spread between 2013 and 2019. Things started going downhill during the pandemic season and have never recovered. He was 6-19 with a 6.31 ERA last year.