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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 107

The Cubs pile on in a 20-9 win to move back over .500!

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The most consistent truth of the 2023 Cubs is that they are very good at piling on. When things are going well, they just keep going. They remain undefeated when they score seven runs and in those games, this ticks the average back over 10 runs per game. This is 297 total runs in 29 games in which they scored seven runs or more. There’s nothing wrong and I’m not trying to make a statement or anything with it. It’s just an observation.

The team has now scored 539 runs in 107 games. So the Cubs have scored 297 runs in their 29 highest scoring games and 242 runs in the other 78 games. That’s 10.24 runs when the offense explodes and 3.1 runs otherwise. This is one of those observations where, of course, the results are going to be stratified. They would be for any team. But this team has some feast or famine to it. I hope the addition of Jeimer Candelario (both names added to my dictionary) helps bridge some of that gap.

Unless that offense does ever show a little more consistent production, I’m not changing my belief that this team is going to go exactly as far as its pitching staff carries it. That’s not an indictment either. The team employs five starters who can be dominating. And once again, has three other guys in Hayden Wesneski, Javier Assad and Caleb Kilian who are intriguing. And that’s without considering something drastic like using one of the talented arms at Iowa in a starter’s role. To the extent that they get wild and grab one of those guys, I’m with everyone else thinking it will be someone for the bullpen. I think Ben Brown continues to be the most likely person to break the seal on.

I tip my hat to the front office one more time on the Jeimer addition. I ran down the list of players traded this deadline and I don’t think I saw a hitter who has better recent history than him. There are certainly a number of hitters who I recognized, several who have had success at different points in their career. But I had seen in the run up to the deadline that once Cody Bellinger was pulled from the market, Jeimer was the best bat available.

Surely with so many names changing hands, there will be hitters that will outperform him down the stretch and some of those may even be unheralded players just getting the opportunity to play. Because of the way market developed, I do just give one second of pause to wonder how much the return may have been. And then I remember that Jeimer netted two guys who needed to be added to the 40-man or risk being lost in a roster crunch.

I do have a bit of disappointment that there was no clear help for the bullpen. I see and accept that there are a number of arms that could possibly become healthy and productive again for this team. For certain, if all of them got back on the mound and showed promise on rehab outings, there are nowhere near enough roster spots to utilize them all. So I do recognize the roster crunch and do wonder if the price for relievers was just a little prohibitive for what they were able to do, in terms of prospects and or money.

A baseball game happened too. I suppose we started there with the offensive explosion and the continuity of this team piling on when things are going good. I actually wondered if the Reds got a little frustrated by the last five runs the Cubs tacked on and checked back into a game that looked to be on auto pilot at 15-5. The only thing I take from these outsized results is that I take the Cubs run differential with a little bit more of a grain of salt than I ordinarily do with that stat.

That game was so wild that as I type this, Fangraphs is broken. Anthony Kay is shown as having allowed four runs. But there is no genesis of those numbers as it shows Hayden Wesneski throwing the entire ninth inning. I don’t know what’s going on over there tonight, but I’ve never seen anything like it. And I think that’s fair, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like that game. We know that the Cubs tied a franchise record with seven homers and broke a record against the Reds with the previous one being six.

Any time a record is set between two teams in the NL Central not named for making beer, you can bet there is a ton of history. In this case, the Cubs and Reds will play their 2,400th game in the history of the series. Amazingly, the two teams have never faced each other in a postseason game. One could point out they are in the same division, but they were not for a few decades after divisional play began. The Cubs have always been in the same division as the Pirates and the Cardinals and have faced them in the playoffs. The Cubs and Brewers met in a Game 163 once, but that is not a postseason game.

That ninth inning pitched by Kay started with zero leverage and ended with zero leverage. So despite allowing four runs in one inning of work, he gets a .000 score, as does Reds catcher Luke Maile for his four outs and five runs worth of work. In all, five players registered at zero because the game was over by the fourth inning when the Cubs led 13-3. The zero players included both Patrick Wisdom and Miguel Amaya. I was happy to see both of them remained on the roster and the Cubs made the difficult choice to designate for assignment a player who was signed through 2024. It just didn’t work out with Trey Mancini.

Every Cubs hitter who played had a hit and scored a run. I’m continued to be amused. The Anthony Kay thing has been fixed by Fangraphs, but now Miguel Amaya has disappeared and his homer is credited to Ian Happ. Suffice to say that there was so much action in this one, that it broke Fangraphs a little bit. I’ve no doubt that by the time you all read this they will have long since cleared all of this up. I’m guessing that somewhere Yan Gomes and Seiya Suzuki are a little sad they missed this one. Ironically, those are probably the hottest and coldest Cubs.

My only slight concern coming out of the game is that Justin Steele struggled against the Reds for the second time this year. On this occasion, I’m crediting that a bit more to a young and talented Reds team. But I will file it away for future reference. I’m going to be a broken record for the rest of the season saying that this team will go however far the pitching staff can carry them. Continuing from yesterday, Hayden Wesneski was sharp out of the bullpen. That pen has been solid and Michael Fulmer, Julian Merryweather and Adbert Alzolay have been glued to the bench for two days. That creates the enviable position of at least having the option to go and try and steal a game with your bullpen if your starter isn’t sharp.

Let’s take a look at three star performances out of probably 10 not terrible choices.

  1. Dansby Swanson has to take the top spot. Two homers and five runs batted in before he got a few innings off in the blowout. This was Dansby’s ninth career multi-homer game and second this year. This was his Cubs high in RBI, and his third five-RBI game. He’s had a six- and a seven-RBI game previously, with both of those coming in 2021.
  2. Cody Bellinger had three hits including a homer that broke part of the right field video board. The picture of the broken scoreboard showing the data from Cody’s homer was priceless. This was his fifth three-hit game as a Cub and the second against the Reds. He’s also had a four-hit and a five-hit game this season.
  3. Welcome back Jeimer! In his first game for the Cubs in six years, he recorded a four-hit game. Hitting behind Dansby, he didn’t manage to drive in any runs, but he did score a pair. His career high was a five-hit game against the Blue Jays back on March 31, 2019. This was his sixth career four-hit game and third this season.

Game 107, August 1: Cubs 20, Reds 9 (54-53)


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


  • Superhero: Cody Bellinger (.201). 3-6, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, SB
  • Hero: Mike Tauchman (.135). 2-3, HR, 2 BB, SF, 4 RBI, 3 R, K, SB
  • Sidekick: Dansby Swanson (.083). 2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2R, K


  • Billy Goat: Tucker Barnhart (-.034). 1-5, R, 2 K, DP
  • Goat: Christopher Morel (-.017). 1-5, 2 B, R, K
  • Kid: Ian Happ (-.009). 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, K

WPA Play of the Game: Of all of the mundane things in the scheme of this game, Cody Bellinger batted with runners on first and second with no outs in the first. He singled and the first run scored, the other runner making it to third. The Cubs would score five runs in the first five batters and the rout was on. (.099)

*Reds Play of the Game: TJ Friedl batted with a runner on second and two outs in the second inning. He grounded one to first and Jeimer made an error and a run scored. At the time, this cut the Cubs lead to three. (.062)

  • 39 plays/events registered as .000 events. The first event to score at .000 was Jeimer following Dansby’s second homer. Only a handful of plays registered at all, and none larger than .003. That includes all 16 events of the bottom of the eighth and top of the ninth inning that saw a total of eight runs score.


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Cody Bellinger
    (41 votes)
  • 8%
    Mike Tauchman
    (19 votes)
  • 56%
    Dansby Swanson
    (132 votes)
  • 15%
    Jeimer Candelario (4-5, 2B, 2R)
    (36 votes)
  • 1%
    Nico Hoerner (3-6, HR, RBI, 3R, SB)
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (3 votes)
234 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Javier Assad for the fourth straight non-Superhero winner (Superhero is 69-37)

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

  • Cody Bellinger +23
  • Ian Happ +16.5
  • Justin Steele +14
  • Marcus Stroman/Mike Tauchman +12
  • Drew Smyly/Seiya Suzuki -9
  • Michael Fulmer -10
  • Patrick Wisdom/Jameson Taillon -13
  • Trey Mancini -20.5

Seven Cubs with scores +10 or higher and only four -10 or lower.

Up Next: The Cubs will wake up to the third best run differential in the NL. They are four games out of first in the NL Central and 3½ out of a wild card spot. Two games of this brutal two-week stretch are done.

Drew Smyly (8-7, 4.50, 108 IP) appears to be set to return to actual starting after two games following an opener. He got a win his last time out when he threw 4⅓ innings in relief and allowed two hits, a walk and one run while striking out six. It’s an interesting choice to pick the Reds for returning him to starting. He’s started twice against the Reds and gotten rocked twice. He is 0-2 and has allowed 12 runs, 11 earned in 9⅓ innings. I’m only amused because I saw multiple people that said the only pitching matchup they didn’t like was the first one.

25-year-old lefty Brandon Williamson is in his rookie season. He’s made 13 starts this year. He is 3-2 with a 4.48 ERA in 64⅓ innings. He’s won his last two starts with three runs allowed in 11⅔ innings. He’s faced the Cubs once, in his third big league start. He allowed four runs in 1⅓ innings. There is some chance that this game turns into a slugfest between these two teams.