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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 136

For the second game, the Reds rally in the ninth to beat the Cubs.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Heavy sigh, part two. I’m invoking early day game after a night game formation. As in, an abridged Heroes and Goats today. I’m going to give you bullet points rather than a full narrative.

  • The Cubs lost consecutive games for the first time since August 13 and 15 against the Blue Jays and White Sox.
  • They lost on consecutive days for the first time since July 30 and 31 against the Cardinals and Reds.
  • They lost consecutive games against the same team for the first time since July 1 and 2 to the Guardians.

If you’re frustrated and/or despondent, please circle back around those first three bullet points. Those data points are increasingly exceptional and are indicative of how dominant this team has been and for how long. For instance:

  • The Braves last lost two consecutive games to the same team on August 5th and 6th. Against the Cubs.
  • The Dodgers last lost two three consecutive games to the same team Thursday through Saturday of this week, to the Braves.
  • The Orioles last lost two consecutive games to the same team on August 15 and 16, to the Padres.
  • The Rays last lost two consecutive games to the same team on August 9 and 10, to the Cardinals?!?
  • The Mariners, who are 31-14 in the second half, lost back to back games to the Orioles on August 12 and 13.

Sometimes I give you these data points without context. This has context. Those are the five winningest teams in baseball to date. They’ve all lost back to back games to the same team quite a bit more recently than the Cubs have, including the Braves, with the best record in baseball, who had those consecutive losses to the Cubs.

  • Javier Assad posts a .636 WPA, the fourth highest score by a Cub this season and second highest by a Cub (Marcus Stroman, .734 on May 29)
  • Assad is the youngest Cub to throw eight innings since some fellow named Hendricks, way back in 2016. Anyone remember that guy?
  • Assad matched a career high with seven strikeouts.
  • Is this the appropriate time and place to note that the Cubs system appears to be pumping out starters and relievers? Good ones.

Right now, today, there are 14 pitchers on the Cubs roster. 10 of those 14 pitchers have thrown more games and more innings in a Cubs uniform than any other team. Five of those 10 have only ever been Cubs. That doesn’t include Michael Rucker, Brandon Hughes, and Jeremiah Estrada who were all drafted and developed by the Cubs or Caleb Kilian who has only thrown major league innings for the Cubs. 14 different pitchers have thrown for the Cubs this year who have thrown most of their major league innings for them.

  • Mark Leiter Jr. had the sixth lowest WPA score (-.618) of the year by a Cub. Four of the five worse scores were by relievers, including a May 31st appearance by Leiter (-.774)

Three top performances from Saturday’s game:

  • Javier Assad. Kudos to all of those who have been touting Javier all along and particularly after his performance in the WBC. Assad may be ascending to becoming a full time starter.
  • Jeimer Candelario. The only extra-base hit, only run batted in and run scored of the game for the Cubs.
  • Seiya Suzuki. The only Cub to reach twice. A single and a walk.

Game 136, September 2: Reds 2, Cubs 1 (72-64)


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


  • Superhero: Javier Assad (.636). 8 IP, 27 batters, 7 H, BB, 7 K
  • Hero: Jeimer Candelario (.100). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, 2 K
  • Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.010). 1-4, SB, K


  • Billy Goat: Mark Leiter Jr. (-.618). ⅓ IP, 5 batters, 2 H, BB, 2 R
  • Goat: Jose Cuas (-.162). ⅓ IP, 1 batter
  • Kid: Dansby Swanson (-.129). 0-3, BB, DP

WPA Play of the Game: Jake Fraley led off the ninth against Mark Leiter Jr. He doubled. (.244)

*Cubs play of the Game: Jeimer Candelario led off the seventh inning. He homered. (.195)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Javier Assad
    (110 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeimer Candelario
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (1 vote)
113 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s winners: Cody Bellinger (Game 1) and Hayden Wesneski (Game 2) - [Superhero is 91-44]

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 +44
  • Ian Happ +19.5
  • Adbert Alzolay/Justin Steele +16
  • Javier Assad +13
  • Dansby Swanson -12.5
  • Patrick Wisdom -13
  • Drew Smyly -17
  • Trey Mancini -20.5
  • Jameson Taillon -23

Scoreboard watching: The Brewers win. The Cubs are now 4½ out in the Central with 26 games to play. Without the Brewers stumbling, the division is slipping out of reach. The Phillies lost their third straight. The Diamondbacks lost. The Giants lost. The Reds won. The Marlins won their third straight.

The Phillies have the first Wild Card with a 2½ game lead over the Cubs. The Diamondbacks and Giants are tied for the third Wild Card, two games behind the Cubs. The Reds are technically tied, but one percentage point behind the Giants and DBacks. The Marlins are back alive, one behind the three-way tie. There is a four-team sprint to the finish for one spot.

Up Next: The Cubs will seek a split in the series. They’ll send Jameson Taillon to the mound to do it. Jameson is 7-9 with a 5.62 ERA in 121⅔ innings. Over his last seven starts he is 3-3 with a 5.35 ERA in 38⅔ innings. He lost his last start, allowing four runs on nine hits over six innings against the Brewers. He hasn’t recorded a win since August 8 against the Mets. He’s made two starts against the Reds. The more recent one was a win on August 8 when he allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings. On May 27, Jameson allowed four runs in six hits in 4⅔ innings. Both starts were at Wrigley Field.

The Reds are starting Carson Spiers, a 25-year-old righthander. He’s been 8-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 83 innings over 28 games, nine starts in Double-A this year. This could be an opener situation. Spiers does have 106 strikeouts in those 83 innings and has only walked 41. So he has overwhelmed minor league hitters. He’s up with the big league club due to the illness running through the Reds clubhouse. He had been set to start on Friday so being available might have been the top criteria, though his numbers suggest someone who should get a shot at some point. He was undrafted in the weird 2020 draft that was limited to only five rounds and later signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent.