Chicago Cubs: Solving a multi-week hitting slump

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Since the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs have not taken off like many expected. While pitching has shown more promise, the offense has taken a dip.

It has been frustrating to watch an incredibly talented Chicago Cubs team struggle like they have recently. After losing 2-1 to the rebuilding Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, the team set a new record for scoring one run per-game on only solo homers in consecutive contests. Tuesday night marked the fifth night in a row.

Of course, the bats broke out in Wednesday’s finale – but we’re going to focus on the larger picture for the time being – an offense that, simply put, isn’t pulling its weight.

What is really frustrating is the starting pitching, which has had its struggles this year, sports a 2.73 ERA in the last six games. The starters are giving the team every chance to win, but they cannot score. Prior to Wednesday and outside their 8-4 win last week against the Brewers, the Cubs had not scored more than one run in a game since David Bote‘s walk-off grand slam on Aug. 12.

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Going into Thursday’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, the team looks to stay hot. Newly acquired Daniel Murphy will take Addison Russell‘s (placed on DL) spot on the roster. Remember, teams go in slumps no matter how good or bad. The offensive stretch during the All-Star Break is arguably the biggest funk they have had offensively since the Joe Maddon era began in 2015.

A dive into the problem.

It has not been pretty this month alone. Through Aug. 21, the team scored 58 runs in 18 games. Only the Miami Marlins had fewer runs scored in August so far. Along with that, the team is slashing .239/.306/.370 in that span. Their 79 wRC+ is 27th-lowest as is their -17.4 offensive value (based on FanGraphs metrics).  The Cubs entered Tuesday slashing .250/.322/.385 since the Break.

It is a collection of many slumps on the team. Willson Contreras is slashing .192/.288/.269 in August with Ian Happ slashing .167/.245/.262 and Albert Almora at .231/.318/.337. The three have a combined three homers (one each) in August. The team MVP Javier Baez started slow but has been better recently. Heading into Tuesday’s finale, he sat at .254/.289/.507 with three homers. All of these slumps happening at once make for rough times at the plate.

Also worth noting that David Bote hit his first slump of his short MLB career. Since his epic grand slam he is hitting .095/.136/.095 with no homers. (This changed on Wednesday in the Motor City). All of this happening with Kris Bryant still on the DL. The few guys that have been hitting okay this month have been Anthony Rizzo (.308/.408/.523), Ben Zobrist (.313/.364/.583) and Jason Heyward (.281/.333/.359).

Getting out of the slump.

This team is very talented, and eventually they have to work out of the slump…right?

The race for the NL Central is getting tight, and the team realizes that. Most of the time when the team is in a funk, it takes one big hit or game to get them going again. Overall they still have the highest OBP in baseball (.340) on the season with the ninth-most runs scored (589) and fourth-highest fWAR (22.6).

It is not like everyone has been doing so bad all season long, there just has been a real struggle for consistency this year. But, the talent is there and they just need to work out of it. There has been a lot of controversy over how effective Chili Davis has been as a hitting coach.

Next. Does the Murphy acquisition mean another roster crunch?. dark

While he has to be some factor in it, it is very hard to see him changing the entire DNA of the team in less than one season working with them. All blame cannot be put on him, but a few questions being asked do not seem irrational either.