The Cubs are still in contention in the N.L. Central despite their .500 record.
It seems odd that this talented team is playing so far below its 2016 level of performance, but pitching coach Chris Bosio might have given everyone a clue in his appearance on the Mully and Hanley show on 670 The Score this morning:
What I saw from @kylehendricks28 yesterday was a very tentative guy, He's just not comfortable right now, he can't pitch with the pain.— Mully And Hanley (@mullyhanley) June 14, 2017
John Lackey is an AWESOME guy, he gets it & is the 1st to admit when he makes a mistake, but some days your body does not cooperate.— Mully And Hanley (@mullyhanley) June 14, 2017
So that’s at least four Cubs — Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jake Arrieta — who have been trying to play through injuries.
This really would explain a lot. Maybe Hendricks had a career year in 2016, but he shouldn’t have gone from that to this bad, this quickly. He pitched better than this in 2014 and 2015. An injury that was just recently diagnosed could explain his lack of velocity.
Arrieta’s thumb cut could also explain a decrease in velocity, and also the lack of command he’s shown at times.
Lackey’s given up a ton of home runs, almost as many as he did all of last year. Bosio didn’t give any detail as to what’s wrong with Lackey, but it’s pretty obvious something is. It could just be age — he’s 38 — or maybe it’s something else.
And as for Zobrist, he was hitting .266/.354/.468 after going 3-for-4 with a home run against the Giants May 25. Since then? .102/.228/.184 (5-for-49).
It isn’t helping the team for these guys to try to grind through injuries. I get it, these men are all competitors and they want to help their team win.
One of them is on the disabled list — Hendricks — and as was noted after he threw Tuesday evening on the side, there’s no timetable for him to return.
The others should probably go on the disabled list, too. I’m aware that the Cubs don’t really have any starting pitching help in the system; they’re certainly looking to make deals but nothing’s imminent. Brett Anderson might be ready to return soon. Yes, I know he wasn’t good before he went on the DL, but perhaps the DL time helped him. He was very good in 2015.
Let’s get these guys healthy, and if that means they miss some time, so be it. The N.L. Central is still winnable.