Chicago Cubs: Tough June schedule has revealed weakness of the rotation

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are more than halfway through the roughest month of their schedule. Sure, it might have been a little better, but it also could have been a lot worse.

At the end of May I wrote how June would tell the tale for the 2021 Cubs. Three games against the then red hot the San Diego Padres, were in order. Chicago swept that May 31-June 2 series.

Then came the wicked West Coast road trip where the North Siders went 1-3 against the first-place San Francisco Giants but rebounded to take two of three from San Diego Padres.  Oh, by the way, the Friars have sunk to third place and are 6-11 so far in June.

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The Cubs, who entered action Sunday in a tie for first, ended the first half of June by sweeping the Cardinals and then losing three of four against tough Mets pitching.  After the Mets series they had posted a respectable 9-7 through June 17.

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A dominant bullpen meant that only two of the seven losses were by one run and none of those were due to bullpen failure.  If the Cubs got to seventh with a lead it usually stuck. In fact the bullpen hasn’t blown game in over month.

Headlining the bullpen story is the best closer in MLB Craig Kimbrel.  Who saw that coming?  But he’s not the only one. You can almost count the number of games the bullpen has lost on one hand.  They aren’t just good, they’re outrageously good.

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The starting pitching is another story.  The Cubs have a losing record on the road and that is due to starting pitching.  Except for Kyle Hendricks, every Cubs starter has a losing record away from the Friendly Confines. That won’t get it done in a month like June where most of the games are on the road.

It would be one thing if you could lay even some of the road blues on the bats, but you can’t. The Mets series in the Big Apple did see the bats go cold but despite that the Cubs have scored pretty well on the road.  They have plated only 29 fewer runs away from the Friendly Confines, but allowed 45 more runs.

How in trouble are the Cubs with this rotation?  Deep trouble.  Only Hendricks has won more games than he has lost.  Win-loss doesn’t mean much in assessing pitching, but when you look at every other pitching metric you see that this rotation is on thin ice every outing.

Next. Kyle Hendricks is back, but he needs a legit number two. dark

It remains to be seen if the Cubs can come out of June with at least a .500 mark. If so, with the previous red hot May, then the once anticipated sellers at the trade deadline could turn into potential buyers.  If the Cubs are buyers, then clearly that buy almost certainly calls for a quality starter.