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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 125

It was just ugly this time around. The Cubs lose 8-6.

Chicago Cubs v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I have to say that I was definitely team bring Drew Smyly back to Chicago ahead of each of the 2022 and 2023 seasons. I was eating it up when he was locked in early this year. It is always remarkable to me how fast the elevator can go top to bottom or vice versa in professional sports Drew looked like a legitimate third weapon in a rotation with Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman exceling early on. I don’t know how many options the Cubs have, but I agree with what Al headlined his recap: I don’t know how Smyly can start another game. Seven runs without getting out of the fourth inning is a killer. I will certainly grant that the Tigers have been playing better and in particular have been producing offensively of late.

To the credit of the Cubs offense, they did come off the mat multiple times in this game. After being down three early, they did briefly take the lead with four runs in the fourth. Then Smyly gave all four right back. The Cubs got two back, but four Tigers relievers combined to throw 5⅓ scoreless innings. The Tigers added an insurance run late, but didn’t end up needing it.

If there is such a thing as a silver lining in a game like this, all of the Cubs leverage relievers got the day off. They’ve logged a lot of innings lately and will be called to do so down the stretch if this team is going to realize its dream of reaching the postseason.

This certainly feels like a different Cubs team than we’ve had in recent vintage. A Cubs team that gave up three runs in the first two innings and goes on to put six runs on the board makes you feel like every game is within reach. They couldn’t get it done in this one though. I was a little disappointed that they chose to let Smyly have the kind of leeway to allow seven runs.

That said, I don’t want to beat a dead horse too much. But for at least the third time in the last month, the game ended with Cody Bellinger in the on deck circle. I can’t say enough that Cody should be in one of the top three spots in the order.

When I watched Monday’s game, I happened to hang around and listen to some of the post game show. Carlos Pena made a point on the broadcast that every game the rest of the way with the tight grouping of teams would be must win. But I like the way he explained it. He noted that obviously you weren’t going to be able to win them all. But every game does have that feeling that you just had to have this one.

Certainly, this last week and a half has been frustrating. The schedule got tougher for the Brewers and easier for the Cubs. And the Brewers have added to their lead in the division. Surely, there will be some stretch before the end of the season where those tables will be turned.

But if you are still underestimating Craig Counsell and the work he does with Milwaukee, you are making a mistake. Year in and year out, he has kept that team competitive. While the current starting rotation is very talented, it isn’t like those teams are powerhouses on paper. He’s had one full season with a losing record, his first full season (2016). He had losing records as an interim manager in 2015 and in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. After tonight’s win, he is 72 games over .500 as a manager in the regular season. His teams are 7-10 in the postseason, including a pair of losses in that 2020 season.

This one was frustrating. Let’s turn the page on this one and hope tomorrow brings some reheated meatloaf. In the meantime, let’s find three stars.

  1. Dansby Swanson had a homer, a single, four runs driven in and one scored.
  2. Jeimer Candelario had a homer, a double, two runs driven in and one scored
  3. Hayden Wesneski faced 10 batters and recorded seven outs, five of those by strikeout, keeping the Cubs in the game in the meantime.

HM: Daniel Palencia, three up, three down. One strikeout.

Game 125, August 22: Tigers 8, Cubs 6 (65-60)


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


  • Superhero: Jeimer Candelario (.314). 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R
  • Hero: Dansby Swanson (.262). 2-4, HR, 4 RBI, R
  • Sidekick: Hayden Wesneski (.102). 2⅓ IP, 10 batters, H, 2 BB, 5 K, WP


  • Billy Goat: Drew Smyly (-.624). 3⅔ IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 R, 4 K, WP (L 9-9)

*This is the fifth worst WPA game score of the year by a Cub, nudging out yesterday’s appearance by Michael Fulmer. Smyly has two of the seven worst scores of the year by Cubs players.

  • Goat: Christopher Morel (-.239) 0-4, K
  • Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.137). 0-5, 2 K

WPA Play of the Game: Jeimer Candelario batted with a runner on first and first, the Cubs down one in the fourth. He homered and for a brief time, the Cubs led. (.233)

*Tigers Play of the Game: Andy Ibañez batted with runners on first and third with one out, the game tied in the fourth. He homered, pushing the Tigers to a three-run lead. (.217)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Jeimer Candelario
    (31 votes)
  • 55%
    Dansby Swanson
    (69 votes)
  • 16%
    Hayden Wesneski
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    Daniel Palencia (IP, 3 batters, K)
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Seiya Suzuki (2-3, BB, R)
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (2 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Nick Madrigal (Superhero is 85-39)

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.

  • Cody Bellinger +39
  • Adbert Alzolay +15
  • Justin Steele +13
  • Ian Happ +12.5
  • Marcus Stroman +12
  • Julian Merryweather -11
  • Patrick Wisdom -15
  • Jameson Taillon -17
  • Drew Smyly -18
  • Trey Mancini -20.5

Scoreboard watching: The Reds and Brewers won. The Marlins won, the Giants lost to the Phillies. The Diamondbacks won. The Brewers lead the Central now by 3½ games. The Reds now trail the Cubs by half a game. The Phillies are the top Wild Card team, 3½ games ahead of the Cubs. The Cubs hold the second Wild Card position, a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the Diamondbacks. The Giants are no longer holding a playoff spot, sitting half a game behind the Cubs and tied with the Reds.

Wednesday sees the Brewers hosting the Twins, the Phillies hosting the Giants, the Reds playing two games in Anaheim against the Angels. The Padres host the Marlins.

Up Next: A quick turnaround for the finale of the series. The Cubs send Jameson Taillon (7-8, 5.56, 110 IP) to the hill. He is 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA over his last seven, generally trending better. However, he’s lost his last two starts, allowing 10 earned runs (12 total) in only nine innings of work. The Cubs really need a strong start out of Jameson after Smyly got bombed, not even finishing four innings.

The Tigers start 26-year-old lefty Tarik Skubal. Tarik was a ninth round pick for the Tigers back in 2018. He’s making his ninth start of the year for the Tigers (3-2, 3.76, 38⅓ IP). He’s made 68 appearances, 65 starts over three plus seasons as a major leaguer. In that time, he has a very solid 4.11 ERA over 337⅓ innings of work. The Cubs’ struggles against lefties have been well documented. They will have their work cutout for them in this one.