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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 87

And the last shall be first!

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you had Jameson Taillon allowing one hit over eight on your bingo card, my hat is off to you! Seriously though, that game had to really feel good for Jameson. In all my years of consuming baseball content, there have been some writers and particularly sports talk hosts that it almost felt like were rooting against players. I’ll say it every day and twice on Sundays, if you are wearing Cubbie Blue, I’m cheering for you. When it was Jim Edmonds it certainly felt a little dirty. If Christian Yelich joined the Cubs next year, I’d cheer for him. I always cheer the laundry.

And to be fair, Taillon wasn’t a notorious Cub killer and I’m aware of no scandals he’s ever been attached to. I have no reason to root against Taillon. I promise you, if the Cubs wanted to roll to a 162-0 season and sweep the postseason, I’ll never once write that it’s gotten boring and there’s nothing to talk about. I’ll find the storylines if they don’t find me.

In a nod to yesterday’s writing, the only negative thing I’ll say is that I just wish the Cubs had played the first 81 games better so that I could have enjoyed these last six games even more. The Cubs have been involved in some entertaining baseball. Is it frustrating that they’ve only won three of those six? Sure. Particularly, because it feels like without a whole lot of contortion they could have won them all.

But that’s exactly the point, if the Cubs were over .500, you’d see that they were hanging tough against good teams that appear to have a good shot at the playoffs. Instead, each of these last three losses just add to the all too large disappointment pile.

As long as the Cubs keep playing these competitive, compelling games, I’m going to forestall the conversation that will dominate these next few weeks. You all know by now that it is what it is. The Cubs front office will be having those “groundwork” calls after the draft is concluded and the All-Star break rolls in. They have to do the right thing and be entertaining calls and/or starting to talk about players that may be available.

The Cubs will, of course, get one more opportunity to tear it up coming out of the break with a homestand. But one doesn’t have to be able to read things in the stars to see which way this season has gone.

But this was a fantastic win. And it should be enjoyed. Among other things that I’ll pledge, I promise not to discuss the Cubs’ record in Taillon’s starts for at least a start or two. This was a top tier start on a team that has two All-Star starters. WPA and Heroes and Goats doesn’t encapsulate much more than what happens in close games, but by WPA standards this is the second best start of the year. To be fair, the best start for each of Drew Smyly and Kyle Hendricks were a little more comfortable than this one was.

Jameson has clearly earned the top performance of the night. If there is going to be any fight left in these Cubs, they are going to need him to be a big part of it. Starting pitching has to carry this team. When they were winning down the stretch last year, the starters were the tip of the spear.

Cody Bellinger gets the second spot. After four hits on Thursday, he comes back on two more and one of those was a homer. If you haven’t noticed, his batting average has climbed to .303 and he brings with it .359 on base and .502 slugging. That’s good for a 129 wRC+. That’s back to start level production. Make no mistake, if the Cubs decide to trade him, he’s going to be a decent trade chip. He has terrific upside and as long as he’s healthy, his downside is a plus defender.

The Cubs only had seven hits and they were divided among five players. Nico Hoerner was the other Cub with two hits. He drove in one of the three runs.

Game 87, July 7: Cubs 3, at Yankees 0 (41-46)


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


  • Superhero: Jameson Taillon (.457). 8 IP, 26 batters, H, 2BB, 4K (W 3-6)

*This is the third highest WPA by a Cub this season.

  • Hero: Cody Bellinger (.128). 2-3, HR, BB, RBI, 2R, SB
  • Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.073). 2-4, RBI, CS


  • Billy Goat: Trey Mancini (-.063), 0-3, BB, R, K, DP
  • Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.055). 1-4
  • Kid: Yan Gomes (-.054). 0-4

WPA Play of the Game: Cody Bellinger led off the third inning with a homer to break a scoreless tie. Bases empty and no outs, the run expectancy is .48.

*Yankees Play of the Game: With runners on first and third with one out in the sixth inning, the Cubs were up two. Trey Mancini came to the plate and grounded into a double play. (.086)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Jameson Taillon
    (87 votes)
  • 2%
    Cody Bellinger
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (0 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Cody Bellinger (Superhero 58-28)

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

  • Marcus Stroman +18
  • Ian Happ +17.5
  • Justin Steele +14
  • Mike Tauchman/Matt Mervis +8
  • Michael Fulmer -7
  • Miles Mastrobuoni -8
  • Patrick Wisdom -13
  • Jameson Taillon -14
  • Trey Mancini -15

The dreaded six point drop from Trey Mancini drops him two spots and James Taillon escapes the bottom spot.

Up Next: A quick turnaround for the first game up in MLB tomorrow. Drew Smyly (7-5, 4.10, 90 IP) starts for the Cubs. Drew has really fallen on hard times. Over his last seven starts, he is 2-4 with a 6.49 ERA over 34⅔ innings. Over his last two, it is 10 runs in 7⅓ innings, so the bad is accelerating.

He’s going to need to be good, because he’s matched up with 32-year-old righty Gerrit Cole. The former first overall pick of the Pirates in 2011 out of UCLA is already in his fourth year as a Yankee. Time flies. He’s 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA over 18 starts and 109⅔ innings. He’s been slightly more pedestrian at 3-2 with a 3.21 in 42 innings over his last seven starts. Yep, 3.21 when he’s off a bit. But hey, he lost to the Cardinals in his last start. The man is human.

  • Last reminder, I will return on or about Saturday, July 15.