Cubs have blame aplenty to go around for their recent free-fall
By Jake Misener
Man, remember a couple weeks ago when Cubs fans were running their mouths about how the Cardinals were finished? Yeah, me too.
The situation has changed rather drastically since then, with the Cubs dropping 8 of 10 entering Thursday and St. Louis winning 8 of 10. The Redbirds' turnaround, uncoincidentally, started with a matchup against Chicago at Wrigley, where they took two of three from the boys in pinstripes.
Since avoiding the sweep with a win in the finale, David Ross' club has gotten roughed up by the Twins and Astros, going 1-5 during those two series combined, capped with a heartbreaking punch to the throat of a loss on Wednesday in Houston. It's undoubtedly the low point of the year for the Cubs, who still, miraculously, have roughly a 1-in-3 chance of making the postseason, according to Baseball Reference.
Cubs News: There's not just one culprit when it comes to team's woes
Cubs Twitter has been ablaze of late, with more folks than I've ever seen calling for David Ross' head. Typically, I've been a Ross defender, but his lineup construction and bullpen management has been less than ideal so far in 2023. We have to keep in mind, though, he can only play the cards in his hanf - and those are put in his hand by Chicago's front office tandem of Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins.
The bullpen is in flames after the series with the Astros, and has been for some time. There's been next to no stability from that group with the exceptions of Mark Leiter Jr., Adbert Alzolay and Michael Rucker. The two veterans Hawkins and Hoyer brought in, Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer have been complete disasters - and you can't count on meaningful innings from either at this point barring dramatic turnarounds.
Which brings us to the third place to sprinkle some blame outside of Ross and the front office: the players themselves. At the end of the day, these guys have to go out and execute. Jameson Taillon has to find a way to settle in early and find a rhythm. Christopher Morel, as impressive as he's been with the bat, can't botch plays defensively like he did in Houston. Relievers have to execute - and hold onto five-run leads late.
It's easy to stick the blame on Ross (I mean, just look at the guillotine hanging over NBA head coaches these days) because, sure, the buck stops with the skipper. But the front office went bargain shopping for the bullpen and while that's worked in the past, it's not a particularly foolproof approach to take. Players need to do all the little things right - and I can't imagine Wednesday's loss at the hands of the Astros is sitting too well with the players coming off an off-day before this weekend's series.
There's plenty of blame to go around. All that matters now is, somehow, turn the tide - one day at a time.