Chicago Cubs: After a tough June, it’s now or never for a struggling team

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

Last month I wrote about how the schedule in June would be a big test for the Chicago Cubs, and compared to the rest of the NL Central, they passed, barely.

The Cubs went 14-15 in the month of June and after a terrible 18-5 loss in Pittsburgh Monday night, the month of July doesn’t seem to provide much optimism.

Things could not look worse for a team that was constructed with one singular goal: make a deep October run. Recent injuries to Kyle Hendricks and Cole Hamels have set them back in a big way. The Cubs are getting little to no production at second base from Daniel Descalso and Addison Russell.

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The Carlos Gonzalez project, while it didn’t hurt the Cubs financially, was a complete failure.

Chicago has lost five straight road series and only went 3-9 on the road in June. But (yes, there is a but) the NL Central has played just as poorly. The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals each went 13-13 in June. The Pirates a went 11-15 and the Reds went 11-13.

Jason Heyward put together his best stretch with the Cubs, finishing June with a .326/.379/.589 slash line. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras were named to this season’s All-Star Game, as well. 

The bottom line is the division is wide open from top to bottom right now. The last-place Reds are only 6 1/2 games back. In July, the Cubs will look forward to the All-Star Break after they finish their current four-game set with the Pirates and play a two-game series with the crosstown Chicago White Sox this weekend.

With the way the Cubs played in June and how they began July on Monday, if they can win three of their next five games to go into the Allstar break at 48-42, I think Cubs fans will take that.

As for the month, the Cubs face off against the Pirates, Reds, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Brewers and Cardinals after the break. All but the Brewers are .500 or worse right now.

With trade season heating up, it’s clear the Cubs need left-handed help in the bullpen and help offensively at second base. I wrote about someone the Cubs could use in the bullpen but MLB Trade Rumors highlighted a handful of potential arms and position players the Cubs could be in line for come the trade deadline.

The Cubs may need to make a move now. They made the move for a much-needed closer in Craig Kimbrel, but it doesn’t solve their lack of reliable left-handed pitching in the bullpen and little to no help offensively at second base.

Next. Cubs look lost nearing the All-Star Break. dark

The next three weeks will be crucial if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer plan to take that step and make a move. If things continue to trend downward, the Cubs might be sellers, but with the way the division has played to this point, I doubt that happens.