The Rockies entered this week's matchup against the Cubs at a whopping 40 games under .500, while Chicago came in 10 games above. But, baseball is gonna baseball, and sloppy play and a lack of execution proved costly this week at Coors Field, with the North Siders dropping 2 of 3 to Bud Black's team.
David Ross' team gets a brief reprieve in the form of Thursday's off-day, but then they'll run it back against another NL Wild Card hopeful, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who took three of four from the Cubs at Wrigley last weekend. And if they want to avoid a similar fate, they'll need to clean things up in a hurry.
Heading into Thursday, Chicago controls the second Wild Card spot, with a two-game edge over Arizona and Cincinnati - and trail the Phillies by 1 1/2 games for the top Wild Card berth. Meanwhile, the Brewers continue to cruise, with a four-game advantage in the NL Central. That season-ending three-game set at Miller Park could end up being the decider in the division race.
Since sweeping the Giants, the Cubs have puttered to a 2-5 mark over their last 7 games. You hope it's not a team that's battling injuries to key guys like Adbert Alzolay, Jeimer Candelario and Marcus Stroman running out of steam. This weekend may be telling, especially with Stroman eyeing a return to the staff far sooner than initially anticipated.
Cubs control their own destiny, but will need key guys to step up
As our very own Alex Patt pointed out, the Cubs will send their big three horses to the mound this weekend in Phoenix - but it'll come down to the offense putting runs on the board in the end. The bats have been wildly inconsistent of late and that will have to change here in the final days of the regular season if this team is going to hold onto a postseason spot.
Cody Bellinger has cooled dramatically in the last week, along with the likes of Nick Madrigal, Ian Happ and Mike Tauchman. The Cubs have to be getting offensive production from the outfield if they're going to hang on down the stretch - it's as simple as that.
With Alzolay sidelined, it's going to be all hands on deck in the bullpen. Injecting Stroman into that mix could help but it's worth noting he hasn't made a regular season relief appearance since 2014 - his rookie season. Coming back from an injury, you have to wonder how feasible it is for him to pitch back-to-back days, etc. knowing that. He's not going to be your fix-all solution in the pen.
This week in Colorado didn't inspire much confidence. But the Cubs can get back on track and open up the wild card race a bit this weekend with a strong showing in Arizona. With the top of the rotation lined up, now it's about going out and executing.