You saw the game, the Cubs’ 7-0 loss to the Brewers, how much do you really want to read about this disaster?
Well, some, of course, and I’ll get to that.
What I want to tell you first is that there is not a chance that the Cubs offense is this bad.
How do I know that?
The Cubs came into this game with a team OPS of .579. (Yes, I know. It’s lower now, .561.)
If they had an OPS of .579 for an entire season, it would be the 20th-worst in MLB history (since 1901).
That’s pretty bad. But here’s what’s important about that. Here are the 19 teams who were worse:
Almost every single one of those teams was a bad team from the Deadball Era — 1910 and earlier. Just two of them had winning records (1908 and 1909 White Sox) and their average win total was 56.
There is no possible way this Cubs team is as bad as that. Don’t try to convince me that I’m wrong on this one — this is simply not possible.
Twelve games where they’ve barely hit? It’s happened before, not often, I grant you, but if the Cubs had a 12-game run like this in the middle of a season where they went 5-7, we’d note it, say, “Hmmm...” and move on. In fact, the 2016 World Series champion Cubs had an even longer stretch where they played poorly. From June 20-July 9, 2016 the Cubs went 5-15 and were outscored 123-89. Didn’t stop them from winning the World Series — a series, in fact, where they got shut out two games in a row.
Am I saying this year’s Cubs are a World Series team? No, most likely not. But they are not this bad. I am certain of that.
On to a few notes on this bad loss.
Jake Arrieta got himself in trouble in the first inning, allowing a couple of runs, and these days Cubs pitchers can’t do that because of the lack of offense. He threw pretty well after the first, giving up just a home run to Travis Shaw from the second through fifth. At 84 pitches I thought he could go one more inning, but David Ross wanted to get the newly-activated Shelby Miller some work.
Well, that didn’t work out well. Miller faced five batters. The first two singled, then Miller walked three straight hitters, forcing in two runs. Miller was relieved by Justin Steele, whose first batter faced was opposing pitcher Corbin Burnes. Burnes smacked a two-run single, both runs charged to Miller. Steele then got out of the inning with no runs charged to his record — maybe that’s something that ought to be changed.
It might have been worse if not for this great grab by Javier Baez to end the sixth [VIDEO].
Dillon Maples got another couple of innings in a low-leverage situation, issued a pair of walks but was otherwise untouched, striking out four. These innings have to be confidence-builders, hopefully he can get some higher-leverage innings soon. That is, if the Cubs ever get themselves into a high-leverage situation.
Of the 52 runs the Cubs have allowed this year, 13 of them have come in the sixth inning. That’s one-quarter of all runs given up by Cubs pitching in just one inning, and also the most sixth-inning runs by any MLB team this year.
You know, 52 runs over 12 games isn’t terrible. That’s 4.33 runs per game. That’d be 702 runs over a 162-game season, only seven more than the 92-win 2017 Cubs allowed. However, that 2017 Cubs team scored 822 runs, just two short of leading the National League. This year’s Cubs have scored 32 runs, 2.67 per game. That would be 432 runs in a 162-game season. The fewest runs scored by any team in a 162-game season is 463, by the 1968 White Sox, in the Year of the Pitcher (three other teams scored fewer than 500 that year).
This. Team. Is. Not. Possibly. That. Bad.
I’m not usually that big a critic of lineup construction but it astonishes me that David Ross has not shaken up his standard lineup, not once, except for backup catchers and platoon guys at second base. I understand, maybe he’s trying to show confidence in his players but at this point do something, ANYTHING to change things. Joe Maddon would have. He’d have led Anthony Rizzo off (honestly, Rizzo is probably this team’s best leadoff guy anyway), or tossed names into a hat and pulled them out in a random order. At a certain point, just doing the same thing over and over and over is not going to produce good results.
The Cubs will have Thursday off. At this point they’re probably looking forward to not being at the ballpark for a day. The Braves come to Wrigley Field Friday to begin a three-game series. Almost-Cub Drew Smyly is scheduled to start for the Braves Friday; the Cubs do not yet have a listed starter. If they continue in rotation it would be Zach Davies, but possibly they could go with Kyle Hendricks, who missed Tuesday’s start, if he feels better. Game time Friday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network, and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Braves market territories.
Hang in there. It HAS to get better.