What you need to know:
Jacob deGrom was dealing all night. He benefited from a Mets defense that turned four double plays, but his stuff was good throughout the evening. The only run he allowed was a fly ball off the bat of Addison Russell that somehow got up and out of the field of play. Otherwise it was nine innings of dominance in which he shut down a Cubs offense coming off a win in which they scored seven runs.
John Lackey has a home run problem. He ranks 7th among qualified starters in HR/9 allowed at 2.05. The names above him are a who’s who of dead arms on bad teams. About 1 in every 5 fly balls hit against Lackey heads over the fence. Those numbers were highly indicative of the way Monday’s game in New York would go. It seems as though Lackey is a big fan of the Home Run Apple in centerfield as he set it off multiple times in the game.
Lackey was constantly looking over his shoulder as hard-hit ball after hard-hit ball was sent in the air. Four of those hard hit balls were hit for home runs. Even the balls that did not make it over the fence were hit with authority. That doesn’t bode well for a pitcher that has struggled all season long, posting a 5.12 ERA for the year. The Cubs don’t have a ton of options at the moment, as seen by Eddie Butler being a member of the rotation. However, it could be Lackey rather than Butler that exits the rotation when the Cubs inevitably go out and get themselves a high end starter.
If the Cubs keep Lackey in the rotation, the home run problem will need addressing. Chris Bosio has a reputation for turning pitchers from trash to treasure. His abilities will be tested as he attempts to turn a well-past-his-prime Lackey into a usable starter. It’s not impossible, but it will take a lot of work. The Cubs desperately need him to turn it around if they want to regain authority in the NL Central.
Top WPA Play:
Jason Heyward reaches base safely on an error, advances to second. (+0.66)
This occurred early in the game with the score still knotted at zero. Heyward reached second on the error with no outs in the inning. It seemed like a prime opportunity for the Cubs to score, but they failed to do so as deGrom shut them down.
Bottom WPA Play:
Ben Zobrist grounds into a double play with Anthony Rizzo on first and a runner on second. (-.103)
This play was also early in the game, with the Cubs down just 1-0. It turned a small rally into an inning ending double play and shut down yet another scoring opportunity for Chicago.
Lead photo courtesy Adam Hunger—USA Today Sports