Holes abound for reigning champs
If you ask Fangraphs, the National League Central is a two-horse race. That hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who’s watched this division in the last few years.
The Cubs and the arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals boast the best postseason and division odds. Chicago still has a 70 percent chance to win the Central. That seems solid, given how the team has played this year. But keep in mind that on May 1, those odds stood at 86.4 percent.
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Kyle Schwarber has failed in almost every regard. His time in the leadoff spot ended with disappointment and he enters the month of June with a .165/.286/.341 slash-line. We’re past the point of slump and it’s now inexcusable for Joe Maddon to keep the young slugger anywhere near the top of the lineup.
Apart from Kris Bryant, the entire offense has been ‘down’. Anthony Rizzo showed signs of heating up, but went ice-cold along with the rest of the team during the losing streak. Simply put, the team isn’t scoring runs – and the pitching has took a major step backward from last year.
Jake Arrieta looks like an entirely different pitcher, no matter what Scott Boras says. His earned run average hangs in the high-4.00 range and velocity has been down. Outside of Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester, the rest of the rotation has been a roller coaster. The Brett Anderson experiment went up in smoke and Eddie Butler is a placeholder on a quality big-league staff.
Things clearly have to change. The Cubs’ playoff odds fell nearly 15 percent in the month of May and a six-game skid entering June isn’t exactly encouraging. Needless to say, this team has been the disappointment of the year in baseball.