The season is far from over for a Cubs team that just had a terrible month of May

The Chicago Cubs had an atrocious month of May, but with the expanded playoffs this team has the ability to make some noise in October anyway.
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As of Monday morning, the Chicago Cubs are just a half-game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the third wild card spot in a tie with the San Francisco Giants even though over their last 10 games, only the Chicago White Sox have a worse record (0-10) than the 2-8 mark the Cubs have put together.

Perhaps that’s the reason that when The Athletic (subscription required) recently broke teams into three categories (buyers, sellers and those in-between) the Cubs were listed as buyers but were ranked 16th out of 17 teams on the list. 

This is a marked improvement from where the Cubs were last year in terms of perception. For much of the 2023 season the team was considered both profoundly unlucky based on their expected record compared to their real record, but also drastically overperforming the skill that they had assembled leaving them in a no-man’s land when it came time to make changes to the roster.

However, this team is not altogether that dissimilar when it comes to the results on the field. The 2024 team is sitting at 29-31 through 60 games which is only three games better than where they were at this point last season.

So if the Cubs missed the playoffs last season and 2024’s team isn’t considerably better, why have hope?

Major League Baseball has changed a lot over the last fifteen years. As recently as 2011 there was just one wild card team per league. From 2012 to 2021 that became two, and for the last two seasons there have been three wild card teams per league that make the playoffs. 

That change is massive. 

The number of teams that make the playoffs has increased by 50 percent from eight to twelve and that means that almost half of the league will end up with a playoff spot. With the trade deadline not occurring until teams have played nearly two-thirds of their schedule, it really allows them to determine whether or not they’re truly contenders or if they should look to rebuild or retool for the following season. 

Yes, the Cubs are two games below .500 at the moment but it’s very early in the season. The 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks were two games below .500 (57-59) on Aug. 11 and they made it to the World Series last season after taking the third wild card spot from the Cubs in the final days of the season.

May sucked, there’s no way around that and there is reason to expect the Cubs' exceptional starting pitching to regress. However, the team has played sloppy defense, they’ve hardly gotten on base at all and when they have, they’ve run into outs at an astounding clip. Somehow, when they manage to take a lead into a save situation, they’ve blown half of them.

All that to say, this team has too much talent not to turn it around and all they need is a wild card spot to make some noise and potentially bring home their second World Series in the last decade.