For Cubs fans, this season continues to be a whirlwind of highs and lows with no safety net to fall into and no safety line to keep you from falling. Looking at June 13 until now, the Cubs have played the following series:
- Swept by the Padres in four games at home. The Padres scored 12 and 19 runs in two of those games.
- Winning two out of three against a red-hot Atlanta, including breaking their 14-game win streak and the Cubs 9 game losing streak.
- Losing three of four to Pittsburgh in a series where Pittsburgh scored at least 7 runs in every game.
- And, finally, they won 2 of three against the Cardinals.
Just a wild ride of ups and downs and very difficult to really come to any conclusions. Who are the wonderfully consistently, inconsistent Cubs?
Over that stretch (not including the last Cardinals game), the cubs hit exactly .250, 7 points above their season average which would have qualified them for 10th in the majors. The Cubs overall batting average isn’t terrible, sitting at 14th in the league. They hit .235 against the Padres, where they lost every game, .241 against Atlanta, .273 against Pittsburgh, and .238 against the Cardinals. The Pittsburgh series is a little anomaly since they scored 14 runs in one game.
From an on-base perspective, where the Cubs are 11th in the league, they averaged 2.7 walks a game, with 3 as more of a median. They consistently get on base, and they fairly consistently hit. Probably why they are 10th in the Majors with a .320 OBP
The Cubs sit a little lower than average in home runs on the season (18th) and they continued that performance averaging a little under one home run a game. They only had 2 multi-home run games during this stretch. Willson Contreras had two home runs against the Padres and they had three home runs in the 14 run game against the Pirates.
But clearly this production doesn’t score enough runs. The Cubs are 17th in runs scored and 19th in RBI’s. During this stretch of games, the cubs averaged 3.9 runs per game, but if you take out the 14-run game, they averaged 3.0. Of the 13 games, they had four one-run games, one zero run game, and two three-run games. The Yankees average five runs a game and the Brewers who lead the NL Central average 4.5 runs per game.
Proving this more, the Cubs left over 20 people on base in 4 of these games. All but four games had double digits in leaving men on base. Though it is true that the more you get on base, the more you’ll leave on base, but every time they leave 20 plus runners on base, they lose. In one the games where they left 20 runners on base, they only scored one run. It would seem that one of Joe Maddon’s favorite phrases, situational hitting (situational sometimes means clutch), is still the Cubs problem many years later.
With the Cubs under-performing on offense, the pitching staff is under heavy pressure to hold the opposing run count down. Easier said than done with the rotation and relief staff they have. Though Keegan Thompson is over-performing, and David Robertson could be an All-Star the rest of the staff is…inconsistent.
During the stretch, the cubs gave up 5.9 (let’s call it 6) earned runs a game. Remember that the Yankees, the best team in baseball, only score 5 on average. The Cubs routinely give up more runs to anybody than the Yankees score on an average night (Note: In the Yankees series against the Cubs, the Yankees scored, 2, 8, and 18 runs). As a team, the Cubs are 26th in the MLB in ERA and 23rd in WHIP. Teams hit the Cubs and they score runs after those hitters get on base. Interestingly, the Cubs are 9th in strikeouts which only means that when they do get outs, they do it via the strikeout.
Just looking at basic numbers, if the Cubs staff gives up between 5 and 6 runs a game and they score 3 to 4 on average, it doesn’t feel like a recipe for success.
David Ross isn’t set up for success. The Cubs can shutout the Braves and the Cardinals and give up 14 and 12 runs to Pittsburgh as well as 12 and 19 to the Padres. The Cubs can score 14 against Pittsburgh after scoring 1 in both games before.
Some signs of young life are very compelling. Nico Hoerner is hitting .295 with a .712 OPS. Christopher Morel is an exciting player hitting .257 with a .758 OPS. Ian Happ is having a great start, .279 with a .835 OPS. His problem has always been keeping performance steady for 162 games. Keegan Thompson is 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Patrick Wisdom has 14 home runs. In the end, there is only one All-Star on this team, Willson Contreras. We don’t expect to see Contreras at Wrigley Field after the All-Star game. You might win some games without an All-Star, but not nearly enough. The consistent inconsistencies are losing more games than they are winning.