What You Need To Know: My first post on this site was the Game 8 Recap when the Dodgers faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was easy to be objective as a Dodgers fan writing about the Cubs given the nascency of the season. However, almost forty games later, I am torn. Watching the Dodgers dominate the last two games has been satisfying, to say the least. Yet, I take no joy in seeing the Cubs remain scoreless through 18 innings. I have a rooting interest in the Cubs, and dammit, it would be amazing to see my adopted team this club win back-to-back championships after their historic drought. But being a Dodgers fan is my birthright. My god…. I am BP Wrigleyville’s Theon Greyjoy.
The second game of this series had veteran right-handers, John Lackey and Brandon McCarthy, on the mound. Lackey entered today’s game with a 4.82 ERA and 4.93 FIP. He has been serviceable, at best. In five innings of work tonight, Lackey gave up six hits, one home run, and allowed five runs. He did strike out five but also walked four batters.
Next Level: With today’s loss, the Cubs are a half-game out of first place. At the end of today’s broadcast, Joe Buck highlighted an interesting factoid: This was the first time the Cubs have been shutout in back-to-back games in about three years. Near the beginning of the 2014 season, the Cubs lost to the Yankees on April 16 and 17, 0-3 and 0-3, respectively.
What were the 2014 Cubs like? For starters, the club finished that season 73-89 in the cellar of the NL Central. Jeff Samardzija and Wellington Castillo were still on the team. To keep things in perspective, this year’s team is nothing like the 2014 ballclub. Though it was a rough year for Chicago, there were some notable achievements. Reclamation project Jake Arrieta had the best season of his career, finishing the season with a 2.53 ERA and 2.26 FIP. Anthony Rizzo made his first All-Star appearance. And Kyle Hendricks made his big league debut and posted a 3.30 DRA!
That team feels like it existed a lifetime ago. Though we all knew the Cubs were rebuilding, it was probably difficult to imagine the team finishing third (!) with a 97-65 record the following season and then winning a World Series in 2016.
Top WPA Play: There are two top plays. Both reveal how much this game sucked for the Cubs.
Ian Happ was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat at the top of the second (+.039).
In the top of the fourth, after Enrique Hernández lined a double to center, he proceeded to steal third against Lackey. Cody Bellinger drew a walk. Chase Utley singled to left, bringing Hernández around to score. With Puig at the plate, Lackey was able to stymie the damage with a K against Puig (+.039).
Bottom WPA Play: The wheels fell off for the Cubs in the bottom of the fifth. Lackey walked opposing pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and he then gave up a two-run home run to Chris Taylor (-.147).
Up Next: The Cubs close out the series tomorrow and then head to San Diego to face the perennially hapless Padres. Probable starters for tomorrow’s game are Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw.
Lead photo courtesy Gary A. Vasquez—USA Today Sports