Reason they're still competitive - The NL Central is awful
Ultimately, if you want to find hope for the Cubs in 2023, look no further than the division they play in. The National League Central is arguably the worst division in all of baseball with only the American League Central in the same ballpark. No one team has run away with the division.
Both the Brewers and the Pirates may have gotten off to blazing hot starts to the year to pull ahead, but both of them also started tumbling down around the same time as the Cubs. Milwaukee is the only team in the division above .500 and, at 28 - 26, is still well within striking distance. Four games is a tiny gap considering how much of the season still remains. It would not take much for the Cubs to be firmly in the race for the NL Central crown.
The cherry on top is what's going in with the Cardinals. Thanks to a catastrophic start to the year, St. Louis still sits at the bottom of the barrel of the division. They've shown more signs of life lately, but even if they get the train back on the tracks, they've dug themselves quite the chasm in the early going. Barring a historic amount of winning, the Redbirds have banked enough losses to make catching up an arduous process that will almost certainly leave them with a worse record than predicted by the end of the year. Considering they seemed like favorites to lord over the Central again, that's a huge break for the Cubs.
The Cubs should be thanking their lucky stars right now they aren't buried under the weight of the East or West. The NL Central offers them another chance at life, but they simply have to play better and shore things up at the margins if they want any hope of staying alive past the trade deadline.