What You Need to Know: If last night’s 14-inning escapade was the weekend office party where everyone stayed out a little too late and had a little too much to drink, then today’s game was the next day when several senior employees call in sick. The less-senior employees were tasked with doing random assignments to fill the gaps: Tommy La Stella and Javier Báez swapping positions several times, Ian Happ playing first base, and Willson Contreras playing the role of the guy who, despite his senior status, has to come to work because he does something no one else can do—in this case, protect Jon Lester’s basepaths.
Perhaps predictably, the only employees who seemed especially interested were the ones who weren’t at the party the night before—the starting pitchers. Jon Lester, after pretending to be Tyler Chatwood for an inning (2 walks, 3 strikeouts), was mostly dominant, not giving up a hit until the sixth. Mets starter Steven Matz was equally impressive, until the Cubs turned into a team full of Rickey Hendersons in the seventh, stealing three bases (including a Báez steal of home, because of course) and scoring two runs. Taking into account the current state of the Mets, that seemed like an insurmountable deficit. And it was. Cubs sweep.
Next Level: Watching the Mets’s bullpen implode multiple times over the weekend should give us a renewed sense of appreciation for just how good the Cubs’s bullpen has been here in 2018, especially given the inconsistencies of the starting rotation. The collective 2.61 ERA is a fine place to start that appreciation. Today, it was scoreless outings from Randy Rosario, Steve Cishek, and Brian Duensing.
Lester, though, has not been inconsistent, giving up two runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. In that same spirit, Rosario has not surrendered a run in 7 2/3 innings this season. He’s also sporting a comical 76.5 percent ground ball rate. Not bad for your seventh choice out of the bullpen.
The Cubs moved to 10 games over .500. They didn’t reach that mark until August 22 last season. Count your blessings.
Top WPA Play: Brian Duensing got Adrian Gonzalez to ground into a double play in the ninth, wiping out a lead-off walk, and sending the Mets deeper into despair (+.159).
Bottom WPA Play: Michael Conforto’s ninth-inning single, promptly erased on the above-mentioned double play. That’s life for the Mets these days (-.089).
Up Next: After an off day, the Cubs return home to face the Phillies in a three-game series.
Lead photo courtesy Anthony Gruppuso—USA Today Sports