Cubs had a difficult first half, 2-games worse than 2011's debacle, this year the bottom (so far) was 24-48 (.333) when they lost to AZ on June 24th (guess the 24's had it that day). But a closer look at this year's club record and performance is not linear but fits and streaks where at the break the Cubs seemed to be on an up tick. So I looked into those fits and think a few things were revealed---the catchers!
Out of the gate the Cubs fell on their face going 3-11 (.214), (April 20th loss to Cincinnati), then they seemed to rebound going 12-9 (resulting in a 15-20 (.429) record). Note in that period three key members of the roster, Kerry Wood (04/20) Ryan Dempster (04/21) and Steve Clevenger (04/29) went on the DL.
Then on May 15th the Cubs started a 12-game losing streak ending on May 28th when they beat San Diego (16-32) (.333), on May 19th Geovany Soto was placed on the DL having not played the two previous nights where on May 15th he did not play either). Cubs catching corps was then decimated on May 22nd when Welington Castillo was placed on the DL but the day that Geo Soto was placed on the DL, Castillo did not play and would not until he too went on the DL. On May 29th Steve Clevenger was activated. During this period Cubs 1-12 (.076), until Clevenger was activated.
It would not be until June 18th until Geovany Soto would be activated where between May 29 and June 17th, Cubs went 7-12 (.368), (22-44 (.333), again rock bottom.
With Soto and Clevenger back in the active dugout Cubs then went 11-8 (.579) (33-52), (388). Is this coincidental? Soto/Clevenger catching corps this year is 18-22 (.450) (including that stumbling start) while with either one or none the Cubs are 15-30, and without both they Cubs are 1-12.
Looking at the record where Castillo was in the dugout with either Clevenger or Soto the record is 8-15, (.348) and with Clevenger/Castillo the record (1-3), very small sample size.
Looking closer that 18-22 record includes one loss and two heart breaking blown saves by Marmol in April, (he did have one nervous save in April), where conceivably the Cubs could have been 20-20 and also ironically since Soto/Clevenger are back in the active dugout Marmol has recorded 4 consecutive saves. Therefore beyond all the stats, all other injuries including our best starter (Dempster) who was out at least 6 starts, the loss of a starting 3B and implosion of a starting CF'er, through all that....the one thread that stands out is the DL stints and subsequent records of Soto & Clevenger in the dugout. Without both the Cubs played below .100, with both they played .450 ball and with one they play at a clip of .333.