Already on the ropes, Cubs now face a daunting task with seven games in six days

Chicago heads to Baltimore to take on the first-place Orioles before taking on the rival Cardinals this weekend.
Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles
Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs likely sealed their fate when they failed to capitalize on a weak stretch in the schedule last month, but if you're looking for a week that could be the nail in the coffin - or the inspirational turnaround - this is it.

Craig Counsell's club opens a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yard on Tuesday, setting them up for a matchup against the American League's best team. This has all the makings of a bloodbath, especially knowing the Cubs' woeful offense will have to face the likes of Corbin Burnes (2.32 ERA), Albert Suárez (2.48 ERA) and Dean Kremer (3.93 ERA).

That's not to mention the O's high-powered offense, headlined by All-Stars Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. Baltimore leads baseball in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS - a big test for a strong Cubs starting rotation.

According to Fangraphs, the Cubs' postseason chances sit in the single digits. Having to close out the first half in Baltimore, then playing four games in three days in St. Louis is less than ideal - and could wind up swaying Jed Hoyer either to selling or buying ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

Cubs need to find some magic now - or their season will be lost

These two series prove daunting for two very different reasons. Baltimore is straightforward: this is a team with World Series aspirations and a clear talent advantage over the Cubs. The St. Louis series is more about the logistics: playing four games in three days tests even deep clubs, let alone a struggling team like Chicago.

Chicago has shown at least some signs of life lately. They took two of three over the weekend from the lowly Angels, but, frankly, they needed a sweep. Even after Sunday's win, the Cubs are still a staggering 11 games behind the Brewers in the division and are only barely on the peripherals of the NL wild card picture.

Maybe they shock us all and this is the long-awaited turnaround we've hoped for now for the last two months. But the more likely outcome is the Cubs getting outclassed and outplayed, much the same as they have since early May, once again cementing their status as sellers.