The 2020 Cubs are reverting to their old ways with just weeks left to play.
Since the Cubs 13-3 start to the 2020 season, the team has gone 11-15 and saw their lead in the division briefly shrink to just 1 1/2 games. That’s since bumped back up to a full three games over St. Louis, who took three of five from Chicago over the weekend – but they aren’t out of the woods by any stretch.
Through August 15, the Cubs had the second-best starter ERA in baseball at 2.92. Since, they are 25th in baseball with a 5.63 mark. Injuries have played a factor but this severe dropoff has been a contributor to the struggles. The unfortunate part about this regression is that it’s nothing new. The Cubs did this in 2018 and 2019 and we are witnessing it again here in 2020.
We’ve seen this story before. In 2018 we watched the Cubs stumble out of first place and into the Wild Card Game where they lost to the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field. In 2019 we watched this group fall out of first and miss the postseason altogether, sparking change. Here we are in 2020, watching with one eye open, as the club has slowly seen its once-sizable advantage in the NL Central dwindle away.
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Not only have the injuries to the pitching staff and the struggles associated with that contributed to this downturn, but the bats have once again gone cold. This team entered Tuesday hitting .188 with the bases loaded. They also ranked 13th with a .327 team on-base percentage and 24th with a team batting average of just .229.
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are both hitting sub-.200, ranking amongst the worst hitters in the national league. Things are becoming frustrating again as we watch this group continue to struggle night-in and night-out. The hope was that by David Ross coming in and creating consistency with his lineup, it would help this offense become more consistent. We thought this was the case at the beginning of the year but we are seeing worrisome trends on multiple fronts we hit the latter half of this shortened season.
We can sit and analyze why things are heading south again but it could just boil down to an uncomfortable truth: that this team just isn’t that good. Lester is aging, Bryant can’t seem to get right and Baez has reverted his old ways. I believe the tools are there to win the division and it would be a travesty if they didn’t, but there needs to be some accountability from this core.
Ian Happ, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jeremy Jeffress have taken a step up this year to keep this team in the hunt but it’s up to the rest of the core to show out and prove this team is better than people are starting to think they are.
This is the third year in a row we are watching late season regression and it’s sad to say we are becoming used to it. Once again, the blueprints are there for a dominant team but the majority of this group is failing to live up to expectations.