The only reason the Chicago Cubs remain 'in the hunt' in the National League postseason picture is because of the ridiculous weakness of their division. Somehow, despite being eight games under .500, the Cubs are just 5 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot and 6 1/2 out of first in the NL Central.
To say the season's been a disappointment is certainly fair. After all, Chicago was one of the biggest spenders in free agency last offseason and the fanbase expected a return to contention in 2023 - not a third-straight sell-off at the trade deadline, something that is very much in the cards.
So here are 3 ways things have gone wrong for the Cubs during the first two months of the season - and also a pair of ways thing went according to plan. Either way, looking up not only at the Brewers in the standings, but also the Reds and Pirates, come June certainly wasn't what we had in mind back on Opening Day.
Cubs: 3 ways the season has gone wrong - #3: Cody Bellinger started hot, but a knee injury has cost him a good chunk of the season
It looked like Cody Bellinger - the one that set the league ablaze early in his career - was back and ready to set himself up for a massive free agency payday at year's end. He still might be able to cash in, too, but he hasn't played in a game since May 15 when he collided with the outfield wall, hyperextending his knee and also suffering a bone bruise.
To that point, though, the former Rookie of the Year and MVP boasted an .830 OPS and a 124 OPS+ and was playing an elite center field that marked a dramatic year-over-year improvement for the team defensively. He'll soon head out for a rehab assignment, meaning we likely won't see him back with the big league team till mid-month at the earliest.
While much of the trade deadline speculation has centered around NL Cy Young candidate Marcus Stroman, don't sleep on Bellinger being moved. If he comes back from the injury and picks up where he left off, there are more than a few contenders who will have interest in adding a seemingly resurgent Bellinger to the mix.