I’ve no doubt that being a Cub has been difficult for Nick Madrigal. In 2021, when he was traded to the Cubs, he was out with an injury. In 2022, he was in and out of the lineup with more injuries. Though he had a decent August and looked to be getting back settled and then got hurt again. So far, he’s been healthy in 2023, but now there is no clear path to regular playing time.
To his credit, Nick doesn’t appear to have moped. Really, the biggest problem I’ve observed this season is an occasional over aggressiveness, trying to make something happen. 57 plate appearances in 33 games has him on pace for about 300 PA. Sadly, for Nick that would represent a career high. I’m going to bet if he maintains his approach, this is going to work itself out for him. Injuries happen and/or he could eventually find himself traded at some point.
Regardless the bigger picture, the small picture was Nick was in the lineup and he came up with the big hit. After a nice team start to the season with runners in scoring position, there was Nick coming up with a big two-run single to give the Cubs the lead. In a 4-2 game, I’ll note that the heralded prospects Miguel Amaya and Matt Mervis each had RBI singles. In fact, between the two of them, they have three hits in their first games in the majors between them. All three hits have driven in runs. With an Amaya sacrifice fly the other day, they have four RBI between them. You have to love that they haven’t shied from big situations.
The entire National League Central appears to have stepped on an industrial sized banana peel. The Pirates and Brewers are each riding six straight losses and the Cardinals eight. The Reds eked out a win Saturday and with six wins in their last 10 games, they’ve been the “hottest” team in the division. It’s way too soon for standings watching, but I’m glad the Cubs got back going in a positive direction. With these two wins, and the struggles of their rivals, they are certainly in the thick of things in the N.L. Central.
Let’s find three positives in the win.
- Nick Madrigal has to get the top spot with his key two-run single. The Cubs had squandered opportunity after opportunity. Then Madrigal came through and Amaya immediately followed with his RBI single. That had to take some pressure off of everyone.
- I haven’t done a lot of packaging two for one. But I’m going to do it with the bullpen. Drew Smyly didn’t have it Saturday and the Cubs needed their bullpen to step up. And that’s what they did. Michael Rucker finished the fourth and fifth and I’ll give him an honorable mention for five outs among six batters. But I’m here for Keegan Thompson’s nine batters to record nine outs and Adbert Alzolay a perfect ninth for his first save of the season. All three relievers are products of the Cubs system. Thompson and Alzolay in particular are key cogs in the bullpen. I have trouble picturing this bullpen rising to be a very good one without those two making significant contributions.
- Don’t forget Cody Bellinger in this one. He had a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. His hustle might have contributed to the error that started the decisive rally. He scored the first two Cubs runs in the game.
Game 33, May 6: Cubs 4, Marlins 2 (17-16)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Nick Madrigal (.240). 1-4, 2RBI, K
- Hero: Keegan Thompson (.158). 3IP, 9 batters, H, 2K (W 2-2)
- Sidekick: Cody Bellinger (.149). 1-4, 2B, 2R, SB, K
- Billy Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.336). 0-4, 2K
- Goat: Drew Smyly (-.106). 3⅓ IP, 16 batters, 3H, 3BB, 2R, 5K, WP
- Kid: Matt Mervis (-.072). 1-4, RBI, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Nick Madrigal singled with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth, with the Cubs down one at the time. (.338)
*Marlins Play of the Game: With the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, the Cubs trailed by one when Seiya Suzuki batted with the bases loaded. He struck out, stranding the maximum. (.155)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Adbert Alzolay (IP, 3 batters, Sv)
Nico Hoerner (2-4, BB, SB)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Justin Steele (Superhero 22-10)
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 +13
- Marcus Stroman/Ian Happ +11
- Mark Leiter Jr. +7.5
- Two Players +4
- Four Players -4
- Julian Merryweather -4.5
- Michael Fulmer -5
- Nico Hoerner -6
- Patrick Wisdom -7.5
Up Next: The Cubs will look to sweep a series for the second time this year and first time at home. Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 4.45, 28⅓ IP) starts for the Cubs. He got a no-decision on Tuesday in Washington. He’s had back-to-back starts with one run allowed. He’s slowly showing signs of improvement. He did not pitch last weekend in Miami.
Sanday Alcantara (1-3, 5.09, 35⅓ IP) starts for the Marlins. Alcantara hasn’t won since April 4 when he threw a complete game shutout in Miami. His last two starts were against the Braves and they scored five runs in 10⅔ innings against him. The 2022 N.L. Cy Young winner and two-time All-Star is, so far, posting his worst numbers as a major leaguer. He’ll be looking to get straightened out.