Game 117 Recap: Cubs 4 Brewers 0

Top Play (WPA): The top play of this game happened in the third inning. Matt Garza was still pitching and scuffling through this game. The Brewers were down 1-0. Dexter Fowler was leading off the inning and was able to work a leadoff walk. The next batter was Kris Bryant, who ranks second in all of baseball with a 6.55 BWARP. However, Garza was able to get Bryant to pop out to the first baseman, Chris Carter.

The next batter was Anthony Rizzo, and he singled on a groundball. Fowler advanced to second, and there were two men on with only one out. The next batter was Ben Zobrist, and he grounded out into a fielder’s choice. Fowler was safe at third, and Zobrist was safe at first base, but Rizzo was out at second.

Garza started off the next at-bat with a ball, and then uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Fowler to score, and Zobrist moved up to second base. It’s not every day that a wild pitch is the top play of the game, but in this uneventful game, it was.

Garza was able to get Addison Russell to fly out, but the Cubs had taken a 2-0 lead.

Bottom Play (WPA): The worst play of the game happened very early on. Jonathan Villar started the game with a single up the middle. Then, after Trevor Cahill threw a ball to Orlando Arcia, he picked off Villar for the first out of the game.

This was one of the Brewers’ best chances to score. It was Cahill’s first start of the year. For the entire season, Cahill pitched out of the bullpen. With the leadoff hitter on board, this was the chance for the Brewers to get to him early. Instead, Villar got picked off, hurting the Brewers chances of scoring in the inning. Cahill didn’t pitch particularly well; he only struck out three and he walked two batters. But, for the most part, he was able to limit hard contact, which allowed him to go five innings.

Key Moment:
Damien Magnifico (a beautiful name), made his major-league debut in this game. He came in the eighth inning when the Brewers were down 3-0.

In the minors, Magnifico mostly pitched out of the bullpen. As was evident in this game, he’s got a strong arm, averaging 98.3 MPH on his fastball. But, his walk rates have often been high, and his command problems showed with the first two hitters he faced. He walked Zobrist, hit Russell, and then threw a wild pitch allowing both runners to advance. Fortunately for the Brewers, Magnifico was able to settle down and only allow one run in the inning. But, he didn’t get a single swing and miss even though his fastball averaged 98.3 MPH. Usually the harder you throw, the more strikeouts you get because you get more swing and misses. This is only one outing, obviously, but Magnifico will have to command his pitch better if he wants to have success as a major league reliever.

Trend to Watch:
One of the big stories this season has been the Brewers running game. Basically, the Brewers have been running wild, and none more than Jonathan Villar, who currently ranks second in all of baseball with 46 steals.

But, Villar also leads the league with 16 caught stealing giving him a 74.2 stolen base percentage. Generally, if a runner doesn’t have at least a 75 stolen base percentage, then that runner shouldn’t be stealing bases. Or, he should be more selective, because below that benchmark, your hurting your team more than you are helping it.

It’s not to suggest that Villar should stop stealing bases altogether, but that he should be more selective in his approach. Villar isn’t Billy Hamilton, who’s leading the league with 51 stolen bases while having only been caught seven times. Hamilton is an elite base stealer, Villar is not.

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