After another loss, the Chicago Cubs are all but eliminated from the NL Wild Card race, which begs the question: where do we go from here?
Over last weekend, a weekend I’m sure all of us would like to forget, the St. Louis Cardinals rolled into Wrigley Field and dropped the hammer on the Chicago Cubs in dramatic fashion. This devastating four-game sweep signaled what looks like the end of the team’s playoff hopes and dreams.
The Cubs painfully lost four one-run home games – then followed it up with another mistake-ridden loss on Tuesday against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, making it seven consecutive losses.
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The fact they held a lead or were tied in the ninth in three of those four games against St. Louis and still wound up losing is unbelievable. The team’s weaknesses were crystal clear throughout these games, and seems to have cost the Cubs, big time.
Heading into the series against Pittsburgh, I couldn’t help but be optimistic. There was (and technically still is, I suppose) a path to the postseason for Chicago.
Hypothetically, if the Milwaukee Brewers lost four games the Cubs would still have a shot. Without superstar Christian Yelich and with Reds ace Sonny Gray on the mound, anything is possible. With Chicago battling the Pirates, the odds seemed at least decent the team could come away with some victories in the series.
But after dropping seven straight in crunch time, it’s time to shift gears from long-shot postseason wishing to eyeing the upcoming offseason and the 2020 season.
Simply put, everyone has given up and there is a lot of work needed to be done to whip this team into shape. Not only is Joe Maddon’s contract coming to an end, but it looks like so is his managerial stint. At this point, it hardly seems like a secret the team has their eye on replacements in hopes of returning to the top of the NL Central once again next year.
The changes won’t stop there, either. Expect the Cubs to make dramatic changes to the roster – from letting guys walk to targeting key free agents. For example, instead of picking up the team option on Jose Quintana, Theo Epstein might instead pursue someone like free agent Madison Bumgarner or Gerrit Cole.
After struggling in a big way toward the end of the season, Cole Hamels will probably not return to the Cubs next season, either. This open pitching slot also leaves room for the acquisition of Bumgarner or Cole regardless of what the team decides to do with Quintana.
Currently, Quintana is 13-8, owning a 4.55 ERA and a 1.355 WHIP. As for Cole Hamels, he is 7-7 owning a 3.92 ERA and a 1.416 WHIP. Since the All-Star Break, and after his injury stint, the 35-year-old lefty’s numbers have worsened drastically. Only time will reveal the fate of Quintana and Hamel’s future on the north side of Chicago.