It’s no secret. The Chicago Cubs have struggled – especially given they’re coming off a World Series championship. Even the reigning National League MVP acknowledges that fact.
At first, we chalked up the Chicago Cubs’ struggles to the fanfare surrounding the Opening Week festivities at Wrigley Field. Then, it was dubbed a ‘World Series hangover.’ But a third of the way through June with 100 games left on the docket, there’s no more sugarcoating it.
This team has been bad.
Granted, Chicago salvaged the finale of the weekend series against Colorado, but when you only win six of 10 after winning five-straight to open a stretch, you can’t help but be a little disappointed.
"“You go through spells where you don’t feel good,” Bryant said Saturday. “This as a team is probably the lowest point since I have been here. It is not that bad in context to the division. No one has really taken advantage of it, like in some other divisions out there.”"
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The bats broke out for seven runs on a dozen hits Sunday. But last time the Cubs scored that many runs – a 10-2 win over the Marlins last week – it followed with a four-game losing streak that put the dampers on a previously promising homestand.
Back at the .500 mark, where they’ve hovered all season, Chicago heads out on the road now. They battle the New York Mets in the Big Apple before taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates next weekend. As has been the case the whole season, the club desperately needs some offensive consistency.
No point in denying it
Two of the biggest struggling bats belong to Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. Still, the latter is 10 for his last 79 and the former has ongoing domestic issues surrounding him, lending a certain air of uncertainty to the mix.
The team leader in long-balls, Bryant, has a mere 27 runs batted in. By contrast, Charlie Blackmon, who terrorized Cubs pitching for much of the weekend, owns 15 homers and 53 RBI – out of the leadoff spot. Simply put, the team isn’t getting men on ahead of the big bats.
And, even worse, when they do get men one, clutch hits are virtually nonexistent. Sunday was one of the club’s better performances in that regard, as Chicago went 3-for-8 in the series finale.
Still, at least to the public, there’s no panic in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
"“We are going to hit,” Bryant said. “You are who you are as a baseball player. You are not going to greatly exceed your expectations and you are not going to stink. I think at the end of the year everything works out. It is a matter of us all doing it together. We can’t panic. If we panic, we can’t play the way we can."
What’s the answer?
This is honestly one of the first real tests most of these guys have faced. For players like Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr., the big leagues have come with boundless winning.
Now, they find themselves in a foreign position – one in the middle of the pack looking up at division leaders. The team’s all-around struggles start with their offensive woes. Even if the front office pulls the trigger on starting pitching ahead of the deadline, if the team doesn’t score, it doesn’t much matter who stands on the mound.
As for the reigning National League MVP, it’s all about working together. The team excelled in this regard last season, but hasn’t hit their stride 62 games into 2017. And he’s aware that fans are dwelling on the fact.
"“You will grip the bat tighter and the ball tighter, that is when you really mess up. It is OK for the fans to worry. That is just natural. People don’t have control of what we do. We do have the control. It is up to us to work harder. We need to do that together.”"