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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 131

The Cubs return home and run into rampaging Brewers.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Where were we? Oh yeah, the last thing I wrote was this:

So we have two guys whose seasons have been limited by injuries. Neither has a recent win and both have one not very good start against the other team. Nothing great there. The Brewers are red hot and the Cubs have struggled against lefties. This could be a tough one.

Add in a couple of errors by your steadiest defenders and this was a recipe for a pretty lousy opener with the Brewers. There wasn’t much about this game that wasn’t frustrating. I talked quite a bit in the comments yesterday regarding my mistrust of Jameson Taillon. I try to always see multiple sides to these things. Let’s reframe this game. Willy Adames grounds to Dansby Swanson. Whether he makes the incredible play at second, or just throws it to first, that would have been two out. Assuming sequencing for a second, Tellez hits a fly ball and that’s the third out.

So we have 1-0 after the top of the first. Happ homers and it’s 1-1 to the second. Two outs to start the second. Nico Hoerner knocks Chrisrian Yelich’s ball down, eats it. William Contreras follows with a single and Yelich goes to third. Sal Felick strikes out. 1-1 heading to the bottom of the second. Patrick Wisdom homers with two outs in the fifth. After five innings, it’s 2-1 Cubs.

Mark Leiter Jr. works a scoreless seventh, Julian Merryweather, having not pitched since August 24 is fresh and blows away the Brewers in the eighth. Adbert Alzolay faced one batter on Saturday and didn’t throw Friday or Sunday. He’s strong and the Cubs win 2-1.

Taillon made some bad pitches. The one to Christian Yelich was horrendous. Jameson and I just haven’t vibed with one another. But if we make leaps of sequencing, I find a 2-1 Cubs win if their key defenders make the key plays instead of each making an error. I realize the scorer registered a hit on the Dansby Swanson play. But he gets an out in that spot way more often than not. I missed the Hoerner play, but it doesn’t matter. If Yelich finishes on first with two outs, they might not score there (he could have stolen second).

I’m annoyed that the Brewers always rise to the occasion. I hate how well coached the Brewers are. I despise how well their organization and scouting do. That team doesn’t have a metric ton of resources. So instead, they coach, they scout, they develop. The look for every advantage they can find and then they consistently execute. If Craig Counsell had done the work he’s done in Milwaukee for the Yankees, the Red Sox or the Dodgers, he’d be a baseball legend by now.

All of that said, if you are a Cubs fan out on a ledge right now, take a step back and take a couple of breaths. Would it be great if my scenario above had happened? Absolutely. Is anything over because of this loss? No. If the Cubs get swept in this series, is anything over? No. There’s plenty of baseball to be played and the Cubs have taken care of business and given themselves some margin of error.

Perspective time. The Cubs have lost one series in August, the frustrating series in New York. They’ve lost two series since the All-Star break, the other a series loss to the Red Sox. They’ve lost three since the start of July, the other one being against the Guardians. What do those three teams have in common? They’ll likely be watching the playoffs on TV. The Red Sox aren’t dead in the Wild Card race, but the most probable outcome is they all are on the outside looking in.

Over that same time frame, the Cubs split a four-game series with the Brewers, won one from the Yankees, won one from the Nationals, won a four-game set against the Cardinals, swept a two-game set from the White Sox, won a four-game series in St. Louis, won a four-game set against the Reds, won a series from the Braves, won a series from the Blue Jays, split a two-game set with the White Sox, won a series from the Royals, won a series from the Tigers, won a four-game set against the Pirates.

What do we see in that group? We see series against good teams, very good teams, bad teams, very bad teams. The Cubs have broadly played and beaten many of the best teams in baseball. Yeah, there are a couple of rough series losses, but they’ve also beaten up on a number of bad teams. This team has been terrific for months now.

What’s my point? You should show them some grace. Is this loss frustrating? Absolutely. Is any of this the end of world? Not a chance. Take a deep breath. Throw your mental energy behind Justin Steele. Hope that your best pitcher can be excellent and that you can win a game and give yourself a chance to win a series on Wednesday.

Can we find some strong performances on an otherwise rough night?

  1. Jose Cuas gets my top spot. He threw two innings, faced six batters, struck out one. After the horrible first two innings, the last seven innings of this game were as much about not burning any leverage relievers as trying to get back into the game. Cuas did a very nice job closing this out.
  2. Patrick Wisdom batted three times and homered once.
  3. Ian Happ batted four times and homered once. No Cub reached base twice. For the first time this season, the Cubs didn’t take even one plate appearance with a runner in scoring position.

Game 131, August 28: Brewers 6, at Cubs 2 (69-62)


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


  • Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.024). 1-3, HR, RBI, R
  • Hero: Jose Cuas (.011). 2 IP, 6 batters, K
  • Sidekick: Ian Happ (.009). 1-4, HR, RBI, R


  • Billy Goat: Jameson Taillon (-.270). 6 IP, 27 batters, 9 H, 5 R (4 ER), 6 K (L, 7-9)
  • Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.059). 0-4, K
  • Kid: Jeimer Candelario (-.042). 0-3, K

WPA Play of the Game: Mark Canha batted with a runner on third and two outs, the Brewers up two. He homered, pushing the lead to four. (.134)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Ian Happ homered with two outs in the first, the Cubs down four. (.066)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Patrick Wisdom
    (48 votes)
  • 37%
    Jose Cuas
    (54 votes)
  • 21%
    Ian Happ
    (31 votes)
  • 8%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (12 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Javier Assad

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 +38
  • Ian Happ +18.5
  • Adbert Alzolay +17
  • Justin Steele +13
  • Marcus Stroman +12
  • Christopher Morel -9.5
  • Patrick Wisdom -13
  • Drew Smyly -17
  • Trey Mancini -20.5
  • Jameson Taillon -23

Scoreboard watching: The Brewers win, the Reds lose for the fourth time in five games. The Cubs are now five games behind the Brewers. The Reds are two games behind the Cubs. The Phillies win, their fourth straight. The Diamondbacks lose. The Giants win their second straight. The Cubs are the second Wild Card, the Diamondbacks the third, half a game back. The Giants are half a game behind the D-Backs. The Reds are now 1½ games out of the third Wild Card spot, only one game ahead of the Marlins who were idle Monday night.

Tuesday’s rundown: Phillies host the Angels, Marlins host the Rays, Giants host the Reds and the Diamondbacks visit the Dodgers.

Up Next: Justin Steele (14-3, 2.80, 138 IP) starts for the Cubs. He is 5-0 with a 3.54 ERA (40⅔ IP) over his last seven starts. In each of his last two starts, he threw six innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits. Justin threw six scoreless innings against the Brewers in his season debut April 1. July 5 in Milwaukee, he allowed them three runs over six innings. He had a no decision in each of those two starts.

28-year-old righty Corbin Burnes (9-6, 3.65, 158) starts for the Brewers. Burnes is only 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA over his last seven starts (44⅔ IP). He was knocked around pretty good in his last start, allowing six earned runs in six innings. He allowed four runs in five innings on Opening Day against the Cubs. That’s the only start he’s had against the Cubs this year.

The Cubs ace, a fully rested pen and a pitcher who they have had success against and hasn’t been his best. Maybe the Cubs can grab this one and give them a chance to win a series. The Cubs last got swept in a series back at the end of June against the Phillies.