Game 151 Recap: Cubs 4 Brewers 0

Top Play (WPA): The Cubs didn’t need much scoring in this one, but they still got a big hit from Kris Bryant. With no score in the bottom of the third, Bryant stepped in against Tyler Cravy with two outs and Kyle Schwarber standing on first base. Cravy threw a 94-mph fastball that just hit the inside corner for a first-pitch strike to Bryant, and it really wasn’t a bad pitch. But Kris Bryant don’t care, crushing the ball into the left-field bleachers and giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead (.235):

Bryant’s 26th homer is a new rookie record for the Cubs, which was previously held by Billy Williams.

Bottom Play (WPA): Very early on, the Cubs also earned the bottom play. Dexter Fowler led off the bottom of the first inning with a single off Cravy after working a seven-pitch at-bat. Schwarber came up next, but unfortunately he hit a hard groundball to Brewers shortstop Jean Segura for a 6-4-3 doubleplay (-.072).

Schwarber made up for it later, finishing 2-for-4 on the night with a double and two runs scored. The Cubs don’t have a ton of concerns right now, with the magic number down to just three with 11 games remaining. But if there is one thing you’d really like to see get figured out by the playoffs, it’s Schwarber. He’s hit just .125/.271/.350 with three home runs since he returned from his rib injury on September 8th, which is a span of 48 plate appearances. The power is still great, but the Cubs have been pretty great when Schwarber has been getting on base at a high rate (8-3 when he gets on base three or more times).

Key Moment: The final out, which was a lazy groundout that Javier Baez fielded at the edge of the right-field grass and threw over to Anthony Rizzo for the force out, is my key moment in the game. It finished off Jake Arrieta’s fourth complete game and third shutout. It also clinched his 20th win, which is a big deal no matter how you feel about pitcher wins as a stat. It’s in no way indicative of what a great pitcher he is—there are list of 20-game winners in MLB history that were extremely mediocre—but it certainly is a complimentary stat that reflects the kind of season he has had.

Arrieta dropped his season ERA down to 1.88, still sitting behind Zack Greinke for the National League lead at 1.65. If we are to look at this objectively, Clayton Kershaw is probably the most deserving of the Cy Young award. He’s thrown one less inning than Arrieta but has struck out 57 more batters. But that doesn’t change how amazingly great that Arrieta has been this season. Check out the kind of jump he had on his pitches Tuesday night, which includes a few fastballs that had over ten inches of horizontal movement:

arrieta horizontal movement

Trend to Watch: Arrieta has blown past his previous career high in innings pitched, sitting at 216 innings this season after setting his career high last season at 156 2/3. He obviously has gotten stronger as the season has gone along, but it’s fair to worry a bit about him wearing down due to the largest workload he’s ever had. He threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout on 123 pitches Tuesday against the Brewers and has thrown at least eight innings in each of his last five starts. The ridiculous stats go on forever with this guy, it seems; he has allowed just four earned runs in 75 1/3 innings since the beginning of August. What else can we say about Jake? #JakeIsGood

Coming Next: The Cubs (89-62) will send Kyle Hendricks (4.22 ERA/3.68 FIP/4.05 DRA) to the mound against Brewers rookie Zach Davis (6.00/4.78/4.57). Hendricks gave up four runs in just three innings pitched, his shortest outing of the season, last time out against the Pirates. He needs to have a few good showings in his final two starts to give Joe Maddon some confidence in using him in the playoffs. The Cubs are not committed on anything beyond Arrieta and Jon Lester in the playoff rotation, and if Hendricks can command the zone and induce weak contact like he did from July of 2014 through the first few months of 2015, he could be in the shortened rotation.

Lead photo courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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