What You Need To Know: John Lackey struggled and gave up five runs on seven hits, including a pair of long balls. The silver lining is that he struck out six and walked none. The Marlins’ sixth, and what would eventually become game-deciding, run was scored on a bizarre strikeout-wild pitch during which no one other than Anthony Rizzo had any idea what’s going on.
The offense showed up, stringing together eight hits, five of which were for extra bases, and five walks. However, cluster luck was lacking. The club as a whole left nine runners stranded and came up a run short of the opponents.
The Next Level: Kyle Schwarber had a very good night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a homer, two of which he barreled on. After his stellar performance, he now has 17 barreled balls on the season, the highest total among Cubs hitters, one ahead of Kris Bryant, two ahead of Rizzo.
Below is Schwarber’s 50 batted ball rolling average on exit velocity, courtesy of Baseball Savant (click to embiggen).
You can see his average being back around 90 miles-per-hour, more or less in line with his 2015, pre-knee injury numbers. As Darius Austin documented, Schwarber’s mediocre performance is largely due to poor luck and his intensively being shifted. With him mashing baseball at near-2015 level, at least in terms of exit velocity, once he figures out how to beat the shift, it’s easy to assume our beloved Large Adult Son™ will be back in his most beloved form.
Top WPA Play: In the bottom of the third, Rizzo doubled to drive in two (+.231 WPA) to give the Cubs what would be the only lead in the game.
Bottom WPA Play: With the tying run on first with no out in the ninth inning, Zobrist hit what looked like to be a ground-ball single up the middle to extend the rally, only to have it deflect off pitcher A.J. Ramos’ leg and forced the runner out at second (-.111 WPA). The play sums up how the game went.
Lead photo courtesy Matt Marton—USA Today Sports