clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 93

The Cubs come up short in a 7-5 loss.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Monday night, there was baseball at Wrigley Field. The Nationals, sporting the fourth-worst record in baseball, were the visiting team. Oddly, despite being 17 games under .500 at home (including 3-1 against the Cubs), the Nats came in just two under .500 on the road. That’s a really odd split. Eight teams suffer from a worse record than the Cubs, including those visitors.

Monday’s matchup featured two pitchers who had decent starts to their 2023 season but have fallen on hard times. One of those pitchers pitched into the seventh inning, though he ultimately got charged with five runs anyway. The other pitcher allowed his five runs in six innings. So neither of these two pitchers changed their fortunes.

Unfortunately, the tipping point in this one was the two runs that Daniel Palencia allowed in his inning of work. After the Cubs’ late comeback, those two runs ended up being the margin of victory. The clock is approaching midnight and it’s pretty clear the Cubs will have no date to the ball. At the end of the day, their roster just lacks the kind of depth in the roster that carries a team through the regular season.

Certainly, with a pitching duo of Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman, the Cubs could cause a team problems in a short series. But, the regular season is a test of your organizational depth. Most teams will start seven or more different pitchers. Most teams will churn more than 20 players through 13 offensive slots on the roster. Teams might churn 15 or more relievers through the generally eight bullpen slots.

Ultimately, the ability to limit drop off with the 20th to 30th players on the roster matters almost as much as the elite talent does. After Stroman and Steele, the Cubs lack a plethora of elite talent. Dansby Swanson certainly produces a lot of value at short backing up superior defense with an above average bat at the plate. Cody Bellinger, when healthy, has produced excess value with a strong bat and excellent center field defense. Ian Happ has provided excellent on base percentage and his defense has shone recently. Nico Hoerner has a decent bat with plus defense.

With those bats and two of the better starters in baseball, the Cubs have a good number of very intriguing arms. Intriguing is not as good an adjective as dominant. But we have to settle for intriguing right now. With time? Maybe a few of them can be elite arms. Also, young talented relievers appears to be the one position of relative strength in the higher levels of the minor leagues for this organization.

I will continue to ask that the Cubs begin to look at the remainder of the season and the trade deadline and try to figure out what decision making positions them best to try to compete next year. With a fresh slate, maybe the team that many of you thought might emerge this season will show up a year late. As I said so many times last season, the road to the top isn’t necessarily a straight line. There are no guarantees and you have to fight for everything you’ve got.

This organization doesn’t have a ton of talent ready at Iowa to push on the major league roster. So, the trick of this trade deadline is going to be to really try to push for the kind of return in trades that teams have been increasingly stingy on giving up. This organization needs to add more options that have a chance to round out the roster next year and provide that kind of depth on the roster that carries you through the toils of a long season.

Let’s look at three positive contributions.

  1. Cody Bellinger continues to shine. He had two more hits, stole a base and scored a run. I’m going to be a broken record, but I think he can be a really interesting trade piece. He will certainly go to free agency. Trade him and get something for him. Then put a good offer in front of him in the offseason. It’s hard to imagine he’s not going to land a really nice contract next year.
  2. Patrick Wisdom appears to have played way too long with an injured wrist this year. He appears to be healthier and he’s producing some value at the plate. He slugged a two-run homer and also drew a walk.
  3. Yan Gomes had a single and a walk. The Cubs had 11 baserunners and these three combined for six of the 11.

Game 93, July 18: Nationals 7 at Cubs 5 (43-50)


Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.


  • Superhero: Yan Gomes (.095). 1-3, BB
  • Hero: Cody Bellinger (.087). 2-4, R, SB, K
  • Sidekick: Ian Happ (.055). 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, K


  • Billy Goat: Drew Smyly (-.247). 6 IP, 28 batters, 8H, BB, 5 R, 7 K, 2 HBP (L 7-7)
  • Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.201). 0-5, 3 K
  • Kid: Mike Tauchman (-.124). 0-1

WPA Play of the Game: Former Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario batted with a runner on second and one out in the first inning. He homered and the Nationals never trailed. (.156)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Ian Happ batted with a runner on first and no outs in the sixth, the Cubs trailing by four. He slugged a two-run homer to cut the deficit in half.


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Yan Gomes
    (6 votes)
  • 42%
    Cody Bellinger
    (37 votes)
  • 18%
    Ian Happ
    (16 votes)
  • 28%
    Patrick Wisdom (1-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, R)
    (25 votes)
  • 3%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (3 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Mike Tauchman received 83 of 86 votes (Superhero is 63-29)

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)

  • Marcus Stroman +21
  • Ian Happ +18.5
  • Mike Tauchman/Justin Steele +11
  • Matt Mervis +8
  • Julian Merryweather -6.5
  • Seiya Suzuki -7
  • Patrick Wisdom -12
  • Jameson Taillon -14
  • Trey Mancini -18

Up Next: Jameson Taillon (3-6, 6.15, 71⅔ IP) has had a really rough start to his Cubs career. But last time out he was terrific, allowing only one hit and two walks over eight innings against a talented Yankees team. Jameson started back on May 4 against the Nationals, lasting three innings and allowing three runs on three hits. That was his first game back after a stint on the injured list.

33-year-old lefty Patrick Corbin starts for the Nationals. He is 6-10 with a 4.89 ERA in 108⅔ innings. Ironically, he was the other starting pitcher in that May 4 game. Corbin threw one of his better games of the year, allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings of work. He’s only had two games this year in which he’s allowed less runs than that. He hasn’t worked deeper than seven innings. He’s only been allowed to top 100 pitches once. In 14 of 19 games, he’s made at least 90. So figure him to hang around for a while in this one, for better or for worse.