Chicago Cubs came up short repeatedly this postseason – here’s why
By Tim Stebbins
The Los Angeles Dodgers are only one reason why the Chicago Cubs quest to win the World Series came up short this season.
Like every MLB season since 2001, a team will not win back-to-back World Series championships. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series four games-to-one.
Although the Dodgers dominated the Cubs in the NLCS, there are multiple factors that played into the Cubs’ elimination. One cannot discount the fact that the Dodgers outscored the Cubs 26-8 in five games. However, the Dodgers’ skill is simply one aspect of the situation.
World Series hangover’s repurcussions
First, the Cubs suffered a horrible World Series hangover in the first half of the season. The team entered the All-Star Break at 43-45, holding a run-differential of zero. In the second half, they finished 49-25 with a 127 run-differential.
In addition to the Cubs’ offense, their starting rotation had an abysmal first half as well. The team’s starting rotation went 29-33 with a 4.66 ERA prior to the Midsummer Classic. For comparison’s sake, starters went 35-14 with a 3.36 ERA in the second half.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
Essentially, the Cubs’ long 2016 season simply drained them, which, in turn, hampered them in the first half of 2017. Although the team righted the ship in the second half, they ultimately had to play hard every game to fight for a playoff spot.
In 2016, the Cubs had the division and their playoff spot all but locked up by August. They were able to coast through September, lining things up as they pleased as the playoffs approached. Like the 2016 Cubs, the Dodgers enjoyed the same luxury this season.
NLDS and Nationals prove costly
Not only did the Cubs have to fight for their playoff berth, but they had to battle to simply advance to the NLCS, let alone win it. The Washington Nationals gave the Cubs all they could handle in the National League Division Series.
The Nationals, combined with the NLDS schedule itself, took a lot out of the Cubs entering the NLCS. Game 4 of the NLDS was pushed back a day; although this gave the Cubs an extra day off after Game 3, it gave them one less day off before Game 5.
Furthermore, the Nationals forced the Cubs to use Jon Lester (Game 4) and José Quintana (Game 5) in relief. Because of this, the Cubs had to use all four of their playoff starters in Games 4 and 5.
With only one day off after Game 5 of the NLDS and Game 1 of the NLCS, the Cubs were in poor shape. In reality, the Dodgers would have been favorites over the Cubs if the Cubs managed to sweep the Nationals. However, it cannot be denied that the NLDS took a lot out of wind out of the Cubs’ sail.
Next: Bryzzo will be back better than ever in 2018
All in all, the Cubs surely intended on repeating as World Series champions this season. However, one should not overlook that the Cubs advanced to and won a postseason series despite everything they endured in 2017.
With ample time to rest, the Cubs should be back strong in 2018 as championship contenders once again.