2024 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 53

Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals

Paul Goldschmidt has been destroying the hopes and dreams of opposing teams since 2012 when he played his first full season in the big leagues. He has a career wRC+ of 141 and has been at least 117 in every single season. First base is a rough position for the Hall of Fame, but he should at least hang around on the ballot for a few years. I remember being at Wrigley Field on a rain-soaked day and seeing him hit multiple homers back in 2017. As frustrating as it was, there isn’t a lot of shame by being beat by him.

The thing is, 2024 Goldschmidt isn’t that guy. With the two homers last night, he has a line of .222/.298/.345. With the way things are going lately, those numbers look like they should be in this year’s Cubs lineup. I’m not loving that we caught Paul on turn back the clock night.

Even when I’m frustrated, I trust the judgment of these Cubs. I’ll assume that it’s what they needed to do to push Shōta Imanaga back. I just find it unfortunate, because the Cubs are in a pretty good backslide and could have used their best player trying to put a stop to it. Instead, the Cubs have now gone from a team that hadn’t lost even three straight at any point to a team that has now lost four straight.

With a pair of wins this weekend, the Cardinals have both continued the woes of a struggling team and played themselves back to the cusp of the NL playoff picture. That’s a pair of bad outcomes. You always want to win obviously, but even more so against a team you are going to see a lot later in the season. If you could convince a division foe they are a non-contender, there’s always the chance they start turning their attention to next year and beyond. Yeah, it’s early for that, but you’d certainly loved to have pushed them down that road a bit.

This was a rain-soaked, awful weekend of Cubs baseball. Now they head to a place that has been extremely unkind to them in recent years. Out of the frying pan and into the fire indeed. But before we can look forward we have to look back. Let’s find some positives from this loss.

  1. Ian Happ had a strong weekend in St. Louis. Sunday night it was two homers and a walk. He was the Cubs offense. I’m only a little tongue in cheek when I suggest the struggles of Ian Happ this year are schedule based. Ian’s destruction of the Reds is well known (1.048 OPS). His numbers against the Pirates (.959 OPS) get some publicity. But the Cardinals check in at .951. Regardless of his overall body of work, those are three of his top five opponents to face. Only the Brewers (.766) have held him below his career OPS (.791). Ian has made his career on the carcasses of NL Central opponents he conquered.
  2. Porter Hodge may not end up with a long MLB career. But it’s gotten a strong start. He threw another clean inning, striking out two of the three hitters he faced. The Cubs are intrigued enough that he held a roster spot through Drew Smyly being activated from the injured list
  3. Mike Tauchman just keeps on producing. Two more hits Sunday night. He sits with a line of .267/.377/.410 (wRC+ 131) and has been worth 1.3 fWAR in a little less than a third of a season. He’s on pace for a 4 fWAR season give or take. And that number is entirely offense driven. His walk and strikeout rates are pretty inline with the fine numbers he posted last year. The improvements have come from increased playing time that he’s earned with an increased ISO and an increased BABIP. We can probably expect him to cool off some, but the bat plays.

Game 51, May 25: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3 (27-26)


Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.


  • Superhero: Ian Happ (.187). 2-3, 2 HR, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • Hero: Mike Tauchman (.073). 2-5
  • Sidekick: Nick Madrigal (.042). 1-1


  • Billy Goat: Dansby Swanson (-.170). 0-4
  • Goat: Javier Assad (-.155). 5 IP, 23 batters, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 R, 8 K (L 4-1)
  • Kid: Seiya Suzuki (-.131). 1-5

WPA Play of the Game: Paul Goldschmidt’s first homer came with one out and a runner on first in the third inning, breaking a scoreless tie. (.197)

*Cubs Play of the Game: The second of Ian Happ’s two homers came leading off of the ninth and cut the deficit to one. (.088)

Yesterday’s Winner: Nico Hoerner (46 votes) over Mike Tauchman (36) and Patrick Wisdom (27).

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 4/Bottom 4)

The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.

  • Shōta Imanaga +15
  • Ben Brown +11
  • Javier Assad +10.5
  • Mark Leiter Jr./Jameson Taillon +9
  • Matt Mervis -6
  • Miguel Amaya -8
  • Adbert Alzolay -10
  • Kyle Hendricks -20

* Ian Happ escapes the bottom four (and in fact, the bottom eight as he passes a clump of players). Javier Assad drops down to number three overall.

Up Next: On to Milwaukee where, if nothing else, the Cubs should stay dry. The Brewers are 30-22 and have now opened up a 3½-game lead in the Central. Last year’s ace, Justin Steele (0-2, 5.68, 25⅓ IP), will make his sixth start of the season, looking for his first win. He’s lost each of his last two starts and over his last three, has allowed 15 earned runs in 16 innings.

24-year-old Robert Gasser (2-0, 2.65, 17 IP) will make just his fourth career start. The 71st overall pick of the Padres in the 2021 draft has had a nice start to his career. A very unusual number by 2024 standards, Gasser has only six strikeouts in 17 innings of work. He had none in his most recent start, over six innings of work. But he’s also only walked one batter.

Let’s hope Steele has things click for the first time and a pitcher pitching to contact can give the offense something to work with.

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