How far do we look into the Cubs miserable May?

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Cubs lost yet again on Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee, falling below .500 for the first time since the morning of April 1. They have lost 15 of their last 22 games dating back to May 6 and have won just one series (in Pittsburgh) over that span. Like last year and 2022, May has been a brutal month for the Cubs. This comes after winning a franchise-record 18 games in March-April.

It's been incredibly frustrating to watch. The offense completely fell off a cliff and they've lost some frustrating games in which the starting rotation did their job. Even when the bullpen started to pitch better, they couldn't hit. Go figure, in Milwaukee when the offense finally started to show some signs of life, things fell apart late like they did earlier in the season. It's like they have not been able to shine in all facets of the game at once. The baserunning and defensive woes? Simply headscratchers.

So, what do we make of it? Are there legitimate concerns about this roster construction? Is it just a bad stretch early in the season? The logical answer seems to be this team is better than what they've shown over the past month, though there are notable holes and issues the team undeniably has. The expected win-loss record based on numbers shows they are pretty much a .500-ish team so far. What we did not want to see happen is the team digging another hole early and relying on everything going right mid-season to get back into things, like last year.

Yes, I do think this offense is better than their recent showing. However, it's simply not on the same tier as the Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, Braves, or Rangers. We've known that. The Cubs don't have Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Corey Seager, or Bryce Harper. They've got some good players, but no Super Stars at the moment. This is where much of the fan frustration comes in being a big market team. Fans do not want to see their team draw a line in the sand on how good they aim to be, and there is a perception of Jed Hoyer and company wanting to be, "just good enough".

With that said, the boys making the big bucks need to hold up their end of the bargain too. The Cubs don't have the highest payroll in baseball, but they are in the top 10 (eighth ) per Spotrac. It's not necessarily "cheap". You have a shortstop in Dansby Swanson, making $26 million this year, who is off to a rough start, and a pitcher in Kyle Hendricks, making $16.5 million, who seems to have an empty tank. Other guys like Ian Happ ($21.1 million) have had their rough stretches too.

May was a miserable month for the Cubs

But is it worth throwing in the towel? For right now, not yet. As easy at it feels to.

As mentioned before this offense should be better than the bad stretch they had over the past month. They did a very efficient job in April with getting on base and timely hitting. Hopefully, the last few games in Milwaukee are a sign their pop and approach are getting better. Happ has swung much better recently as has Cody Bellinger. Heck, they likely win all the other Shōta Imanaga starts with the runs they scored had he not been due for a bad one Wednesday night. This brings us to the point that the rotation has looked very good overall and there is much promise in guys like Ben Brown and hopefully a soon-to-be returning Jordan Wicks. Add on Javier Assad and a solid Jameson Taillon so far.

A big question will be if that frequently lauded farm system will play a positive factor going forward. Whether that's the growth of guys like Pete Crow-Armstrong or using that farm to get some big names in trades assuming they are in the position to buy. For now, I will still give some benefit of the doubt to the big names who have struggled and hope the farm in one way or another aids this team in improving over the season. It's no guarantee, but it's a doable scenario.

Baseball is a long season, and we have seen some promising stuff from them despite the frustration. We also cannot pretend they don't have significant issues in places. How those issues get addressed will show fans how serious they are in 2024. It's not over, but it's time to get back on track or the season can get late quickly.