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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 155

Two in a row and fully in control of destiny.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday afternoon was too close for comfort on the North Side of Chicago. That said, the Cubs won and now they’ve won two straight. It may feel like it was months ago when they last did that, but they did win two straight on September 10 and 11. They haven’t won three straight since September 4-6 when they swept three from the Giants.

Can one describe a 6-3 win as listless? This was one of those wins where it’s hard to envision the Cubs would have beaten a good team. These Rockies aren’t good in any situation, and particularly not good on the road. That said, no one is forgetting that this team just won two straight from the Cubs Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

After scoring the first run on Saturday, the Cubs allowed a three-run inning. Then they just slowly chipped their way back into the game before finally winning it late and then holding on. While there were some strong individual performances, it just didn’t feel like the kind of strong win you’d want this time of the year.

That said, the Reds thought they were delivering one of those signature wins as they tried to keep pace with the Cubs. They had a nine-run lead over the Pirates after three innings. They allowed 13 unanswered runs before attempting a late comeback but ultimately losing 13-12. That is a loss that could be backbreaking for a Reds team that is usually on the other side of the huge comeback.

This Cubs team has become a really interesting one. They probably weren’t as good as the team that had more or less everything going in the right direction from June through August. But this team isn’t anywhere near as bad as it has played in much of September. This team belongs in the playoffs and is looking like they’ve come off of the mat one more time.

Admirably, this is a team that just keeps fighting back. In so doing, they’ve positioned themselves decently heading into the last week. But before we can look ahead, they have got to work on wrapping up the three game sweep of these Rockies and positioning themselves the best that they can for that last week.

Let’s look at three star performances from Saturday afternoon’s victory.

  1. Javier Assad moved back to the bullpen and largely piggybacked off of Marcus Stroman. It’s hard to imagine how the Cubs win this game without the four scoreless innings Javier pitched. He allowed two hits and hit a batter out of 16 batters faced. He struck out six. It was a dominant outing.
  2. Nico Hoerner was a menace in this game. Two singles, two walks and a sacrifice fly. He scored a run and drove in two.
  3. Ian Happ had a double, drew two walks and drove in a run.

Game 155, September 23: Cubs 6, Rockies 3 (81-74)

Fangraphs

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

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Javier Assad (.220). 4 IP, 16 batters, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 6 K, HBP (W 5-3)
  • Hero: Nico Hoerner (.180). 2-2, 2 BB, SF, 2 RBI, R
  • Sidekick: Ian Happ (.175). 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, RBI, K

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Marcus Stroman (-.182). 3 IP, 15 batters, 5 H, BB, 3 R, 2K, WP
  • Goat: Dansby Swanson (-.082). 1-4, 2B, K
  • Kid: Cody Bellinger (-.073). 0-3, SF, RBI

WPA Play of the Game: Ezequiel Tovar batted with a runner on first and one out in the eighth inning, the Cubs up one. He doubled sending the tying run to third. (.207)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Yan Gomes batted with a runner on second and two outs in the sixth, the Cubs down one. He doubled and that tied the game. (.189)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Javier Assad
    (129 votes)
  • 6%
    Nico Hoerner
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Ian Happ
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Yan Gomes (1-4, 2B, RBI)
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Julian Merryweather (IP, 6 batters, H, 2 BB, 3 K)
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Miles Mastrobuoni (2-3, BB, 2 R)
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (0 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Jameson Taillon 62-54 over Seiya Suzuki (Superhero is 105-49)

Writer’s note: Merryweather is probably one of my most outside of the box nominations. WPA ignores how sloppy your scoreless inning is. I don’t often agree. It’s certainly hard to give Merryweather credit for escaping a mess that he crated. Also at the end of the day, they needed a scoreless inning and got it.

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 6/Bottom 6)

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 +32
  • Ian Happ +21.5
  • Adbert Alzolay +18
  • Justin Steele/Javier +16
  • Marcus Stroman +11
  • Michael Fulmer -9
  • Dansby Swanson -14
  • Patrick Wisdom/Drew Smyly -15
  • Trey Mancini -20.5
  • Jameson Taillon -23

Scoreboard watching:

  • Diamondbacks did not play due to a storm on the East Coast. (More below)
  • Cubs win second straight
  • Marlins win
  • Reds lose fourth straight

Four teams, two spots. The Phillies have a 4½ game lead on the Diamondbacks and will be the first Wild Card, but probably won’t clinch that until mid-week. The Diamondbacks are the second Wild Card, half a game ahead of the Cubs who are the third Wild Card. The Marlins trail the Cubs by a game. The Reds now trail by 2½ games. They are in a lot of trouble, having already lost their 77th game, two more than the Marlins and three more than the Cubs. The Reds only play six more games. They are very close to needing to win out, if not already there.

The Diamondbacks were rained out Saturday and could actually face rain again on Sunday. The league did some shuffling, moving the Diamondbacks/White Sox game from Monday to Thursday so Arizona will now play the Yankees Monday and presumably that would become a doubleheader if Sunday is rained out too. You know there is going to be extra effort to get the game in Sunday. The Cubs have been a few similar games through the years and that can become a long and painful night at the ballpark. With eight games left, if everything goes as good as it can, the Diamondbacks will play eight games in eight days in three cities and three time zones to finish the season. The final three of those games are against the defending champion Astros. The Astros not only aren’t leading their division, they are battling with the Mariners and Blue Jays for the last two playoff spots. The Astros will almost certainly be playing for their playoff lives. The second Wild Card is very much in play for the Cubs.

Up Next: The Cubs can’t worry about any of that. They saw their cushion waste away and all they have left to do is win games. They really need to finish a three game sweep of the woeful Rockies on Sunday. They’ll send Jordan Wicks (3-1, 2.67, 27 IP) to the mound. Jordan is coming off of his first clunker, in a start at Arizona. He allowed three runs on four hits and four walks in just 4⅓ innings last weekend. The start before that, he was very good and left with the lead against these Rockies. He allowed one run on three hits and a walk in six innings in that one.

The Rockies will start 32-year-old righty Ty Blach (3-2, 5.32, 67⅔ IP). Ty is 2-1 with a 6.31 ERA over his last seven starts and can’t be happy with how this season is finishing. Last time out, he allowed seven runs and only lasted two outs into the fourth inning. The start before that was against the Cubs and he was the winner. He allowed three runs on nine hits and a walk over five innings.