Chicago Cubs fans have seen this story play out before.
A potential postseason team entering the month of September with a favorable schedule while controlling their destiny. It was the script in 2018, 2019, and 2020. In each of those seasons, the Cubs fell flat during the final month of the season.
In the case of 2018, the Cubs' collapse during the month of September resulted in Game 163 with the Milwaukee Brewers where the team's offense fell flat.
The offense fell flat once again during the final month of the 2019 season and the Cubs missed the postseason.
Sure, the Cubs won the division in the COVID season of 2020 but that was, in large part, due to the sizeable lead they created at the beginning of what was a two-month season. The Cubs regressed during the final month of the season and were easily bounced in the first round by the Miami Marlins.
Here we are again.
Despite having a near 100-percent chance of making the postseason at the beginning of the month, the Cubs would not be a postseason team if the season ended today. In fact, the Cubs no longer control their own destiny in terms of securing a postseason spot in 2023.
The Cubs have run out of levers to pull and now, a large part of whether they sink or swim will be dependent on manager David Ross. Ross is the one who has maintained over the course of the past month that the Cubs are not at a point where development is the priority, winning is.
The Cubs are not winning and Ross is not putting the team in a position to succeed. Ross has been adamant about playing the players that have got them to this point but the issue with that he is depending on players in center fielder Mike Tauchman and third baseman Nick Madrigal who have inconsistent track records.
Tauchman has been a fun story this summer but there have been signs over the course of the past month of regressing back to the player that was out of Major League Baseball since 2021. Ross' preference for Madrigal at third base has also proved costly given the fact that it does not allow him to put the best player at other positions.
The struggles of the pitching staff can not be placed on Ross. The Cubs' front office never fully addressed the bullpen and the struggles of Jameson Taillon could not have been predicted at the start of the season.
Ross will not be fired regardless of the outcome of the season but this is going to be a season where next season, when there are legitimate expectations at the start of the season, may be held against Ross if the team struggles out of the gate.