Top Play (WPA): Part of the beauty of baseball is that the determining play can come at any moment in the game, even the very first inning. Few other sports hold such criticality during the opening moments of the contest. Kris Bryant was not the story tonight, of that there is no doubt. What he did do was ensure that story could be told. After Chris Denorfia worked a walk, Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood left a 1-0 two-seam fastball over the middle of the plate:

The likely National League Rookie of the Year did not disappoint, lining the pitch into the left field bleachers for his 21st home run to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead (+.187).

Bryant’s game-winner consummated the scoring for the evening. You may wonder what the second highest play by WPA could be on such a memorable night; that would be Dexter Fowler’s double in the seventh, tallying just (+.039).

Bottom Play (WPA): In “we own this game and we won’t allow any mention of you” fashion, the Cubs earned tonight’s least-effective play by completely eliminating scoring chances for the Dodgers. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Starlin Castro grounded sharply to second to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play (-.083).

Key Moment: For Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, there were 116 of them. With those 116 deliveries, Arrieta accomplished something just 14 other men in a Cubs uniform have, throwing the 15th no-no in franchise history. From the outset, Arrieta exhibited his very sharpest form. His fastball touched 97 on the gun, his curve was vicious, his slider generated 12 empty swings and a shriek from my (Cards fan) wife at one point…even causing her to utter “dirty” after watching yet another Dodger batsmen flail and come up empty. It was sheer brilliance for Arrieta. On national television, the 29-year-old thumbed his nose at All-Star voters, while seemingly daring Cy Young front-runner Zack Greinke to slip and allow him into the picture.

There are certain performances that demand in-depth statistical analysis to explain the dominance. This was not such a performance, as Arrieta’s stuff was purely dominant from the beginning. Nonetheless, let’s review the path he followed:

Pitch Type Velo (Max) H-Break V-Break Count Strikes / % Swings / % Whiffs / % BIP (No Out) SNIPs / % LWTS
FF (Four-seam Fastball) 95.1 (96.3) -4.28 7.41 15 10 / 66.7% 8 / 53.3% 3 / 20.0% 3 (0) 7 / 58.3% -0.86
SI (Sinker) 95.2 (97.2) -6.57 5.58 44 32 / 72.7% 21 / 47.7% 4 / 9.1% 5 (0) 27 / 69.2% -2.38
CH (Changeup) 90.0 (90.0) -8.87 3.33 1 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 (0) 0 / 0.0% 0.05
SL (Slider) 90.2 (93.1) 3.45 1.23 34 26 / 76.5% 23 / 67.6% 12 / 35.3% 5 (1) 21 / 72.4% -2.48
CU (Curveball) 81.4 (83.0) 7.07 -8.99 22 12 / 54.5% 10 / 45.5% 2 / 9.1% 3 (0) 9 / 47.4% -0.92

His slider alone generated the aforementioned 12 whiffs, but perhaps more impressive are the 64 SNIPs he totaled. He tallied 12 punch-outs and just one walk, with the only other baserunner coming on a line drive to Castro at second that short-hopped him and was ultimately ruled an error.

The quantity of yellow squares nearly a foot below the strike zone need little editorializing other than the “dirty” utterance made by my wife. His slider simply could not be touched.

For Arrieta, it was the defining moment of a memorable collection of starts in August. Six times he took the ball, five times he exited the game without allowing a run. Six starts, 42 1/3 innings pitched, six wins, two earned runs, 43 strikeouts. When the Cubs needed it most, Jake Arrieta cemented himself as an ace in every sense of the word.

While Arrieta almost completely eliminated hard contact, he did need some assistance from his teammates. The closest the Dodgers came to a hit was in the seventh on a soft line drive that appeared ticketed for right field. Enter Castro:

The only other contact that required significant defensive effort was a grounder to Addison Russell in the eighth:

The rest was pretty much done by Jake himself.

Trend to Watch: Castro seems to be settling in at just the right time, collecting three more hits tonight. That’s 10 hits in his last 24 at-bats, including four extra-base hits. Despite the well-publicized demotion, Castro’s bat still holds potential, and he figures to play a big role on this team if they are to make a deep run in October.

Speaking of young shortstops that figure to factor largely in the stretch run, Javier Baez collected four more knocks in Des Moines tonight. He currently owns a 16-game hit streak. Since returning from a broken finger on July 23rd, he is hitting .337 with a strikeout rate of just 23 percent. Somewhat amazingly, the impact the former top-prospect could have on this team is perhaps being taken for granted in the shadow of other young stars. Expect to see Baez at Wrigley on Tuesday.

Coming Next: Like a sorority after a successful fundraiser; a celebratory pajama party! In classic Joe Maddon fashion, he sensed an ice-breaker may be needed after a four-game losing streak, so the entire team will be donning pajamas on their overnight flight back to Chicago for tomorrow’s game against Cincinnati. Kyle Hendricks (3.50 FIP, 3.65 K/BB, 3.99 DRA) mans the bump for the home team while Michael Lorenzen (5.46, 5.77, 6.42) receives the honor for the guests. Hendricks has recorded just one quality start in August, struggling with the abnormal problem of issuing free passes. He has walked 11 batters this month, while his next highest month-long total is just seven. Lorenzen is making his first start after being recalled from Triple-A. The long ball has been the kryptonite for the young hurler, allowing 15 home runs in just 90 innings. Game time is 7:05.

Lead photo courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Related Articles

2 comments on “GAME 129 RECAP: CUBS 2 DODGERS 0 (hits)”

Blake Bennett

Smiling while reading a recap of a Cubs win and no-no. The guy must be a good writer. ;-)

-Your Wife.


Great write up, Isaac. Congrats on the win.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username