Friday, April 19, 2024

A Truly Incredible Choke Job by the Cubs

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It was pretty awesome how much ground the Cubs were able to make up in about 3-4 weeks from late July through the middle of August, when they jumped into a Wild Card spot, but now it’s truly incredible how little time it’s taken the Cubs to choke it away.

Sunday’s 6-2 loss capped off a three-game sweep against the Arizona Diamondbacks and a 1-5 road trip that kicked the Cubs out of a Wild Card spot. It’s pretty insane because heading into Sept. 7, the Cubs had a comfortable 3.5 game advantage for the second spot in the Wild Card standings. Now, after going 2-8, which includes losing five of six to the Diamondbacks, Chicago is trailing Arizona by half a game and thanks to the Miami Marlins having the tiebreaker, the Cubs are on the outside looking in with two weeks left in the regular season.

It only took 10 days for the Cubs to lose 4 games in the standings to the Diamondbacks and 3.5 to the Marlins. Un-fucking believable.

Another way to look at it is by their odds to make the playoffs. After sweeping the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 6, the Cubs had a 92.4% chance to clinch a playoff berth. That number is below 50% after Sunday.

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Offense Collapsing

It is so painful to see the Cubs offense doing exactly what got them in a giant hole in the first place back in May. We all remember how awful it was to see the Cubs leave everyone on base and how they kept losing one-run games because no one was coming up with a big hit. Well, that’s what has happened during this latest 10-game stretch.

As a team, the Cubs slashed .205/.270/.256, with a 45 wRC+, when runners have been on base, leading to their 2-8 record. However, the offense has been slowly collapsing since the start of September. In 17 games, the Cubs have a slash line of .270/.340/.485, the fourth-best in baseball with the bases empty. But of course, with runners on, they’re only slashing .252/.317/.349, an 82 wRC+, the third-worst mark in the majors.

Players, Manager, Front Office

It will be interesting to see how the front office reacts if the Cubs do indeed miss the playoffs after having a somewhat comfortable lead with three weeks left. It seems obvious that the position players have been running out of gas this month, but for whatever reason David Ross has stuck with the same guys to the team’s detriment.

Absolutely no idea why Pete Crow-Armstrong didn’t start more games on the road trip. He could go 0-for-4, with three strikeouts every game and he would still come out as a net positive because of his defense alone.

Dansby Swanson has been slumping for most of the second half and he had his worst series this past weekend that extended into some head-scratching plays from the gold glove shortstop on defense.

Cody Bellinger carried the offense for close to two months, but now that he’s hit a rough patch, not enough guys are picking up the slack. I don’t know, maybe a few of these guys would have benefited from a day off or two during this awful stretch or before hand so that this awful stretch could have been avoided.

And it doesn’t matter now with 12 games left, but I still have no idea why Alexander Canario was called up to sit on the bench.

In 2022, the Cubs signed Ross to contract extension that guaranteed him the manager job through 2024, with an option for 2025. We’re not the ones making the decision, but I’d say most Cubs fans are looking forward to a different guy in charge after seeing Ross manage the 2023 team. However, I do have to say that when it comes to expectations, the front office did not put a World Series roster to begin the season, so it’s not like Ross has underachieved with the talent he’s had throughout the year.

That being said, I’m not sure I feel confident that Ross has been part of the solution rather than part of the problem in 2023.

But hey, 12 games left. The Cubs still have a solid chance at making the playoffs, but man what a terrible choke job this has been so far in September.

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