I’ve always hated the concept of a dead cat bounce. It’s just a horrible image. Surely, not the least of which is because I own three cats and have owned cats more often than not throughout my life. It feels like there should be some other imagery we could have for a bounce off of the “bottom” from the stock market or something.
Regardless of whether I like the terminology or not, I can recognize one, at least in hindsight. So we know now that the four wins in five games on the last homestand was a hit of that. It was immediately followed by a seven game losing streak. The Cubs have dropped to 23-37 and are on pace to win 62 games. That is the magic 100-loss mark, unless somehow a game gets mercifully cancelled. Of course, in a world where revenue is king, we know that even games such as the six Reds/Cubs games at the end of the season will be played at almost with conditions just so that a few dollars aren’t lost.
Those Reds? The ones that looked in April that they might shatter records for futility? They are now one win and two losses behind the Cubs. There are now only four teams with records worse than the Cubs. In the race to the bottom, the Reds and Nationals are the closest competition. Each is 1½ games separated from the Cubs in the standings. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played including all of the games against the Nationals and most of them against the Reds.
All of that said, I will soften the dour outlook above with this. A team is never as bad as it looks during a prolonged losing streak or as good as it looks during a prolonged winning streak. Certainly, if all three of the Cubs’ planned top three starters in Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley remain some combination of hurt and ineffective, things could get ugly. It’s too early in the season for shutting guys down and saving bullets for next year, so the Cubs will get all three of these guys back on the field and all three of them are too good to struggle for long (to Miley’s credit, his only struggles have been injuries so far).
This team came into the season with two primary problems. One was a lack of quality pitching depth and the other was a lack of high end offensive talent. Certainly, if they’d had decent health, they could have been at least passable. But they have been a walking mash unit and so all too many nights they have simply been over matched.
As bad as things have been, not every game is a blowout. On Monday, like on Friday, the Cubs hung in with a team with World Series aspirations only to come up short. Let’s look at three positives from the loss.
- Justin Steele. He’s a bit of an enigma, but appears to be entirely capable of being a back of the rotation starter. Obviously, everyone would love to have a talented and deep enough rotation that their fourth and fifth starter can regularly dominate. But it is far more realistic to have a guy back there who is at least able to mix in some very strong starts in-between the clunkers. Six hits, no walks, one run in seven innings. That gave the Cubs a chance to win.
- Yan Gomes supplied the offense with a solo homer. The net would be less, but plan B on the trade season should the Cubs decide to hold onto Willson Contreras would be to trade Gomes. I don’t think there is much question that the Cubs strongest positional group is catcher where P.J. Higgins has also handled himself well in his opportunities.
- Brandon Hughes threw a perfect inning. Unfortunately, it was an inning too late after Rowan Wick was roughed up in the eighth.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from last night’s loss.
Game 60, June 13: Padres 4 at Cubs 1 (23-37)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Justin Steele (.336). 7IP (27 batters), 6H, R, 3K
- Hero: Yan Gomes (.057). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, 2K
- Sidekick: Scott Effross (.022). ⅔ IP (3 batters), H
- Billy Goat: Rowan Wick (-.435). ⅓ IP (5 batters), 3H, BB, 3R (L 1-2)
- Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.120). 0-4, K
- Kid: Frank Schwindel (-.104). 1-4, 2K, DP
WPA Play of the Game: With a runner on first and no outs in the eighth inning, the game was tied 1-1. Jake Cronenworth singled against Rowan Wick, setting up the big inning. (.180)
*Cubs Play of the Game: The Cubs continue to lead in most games, often scoring first. Monday was no exception with Yan Gomes’ homer leading off the second inning. (.105)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Ian Happ/Nico Hoerner +11
- David Robertson +9.5
- Kyle Hendricks -9
- Patrick Wisdom -9.5
- Jason Heyward -10.5
Up Next: Game two of the three-game set between the Cubs and Padres. Kyle Hendricks (2-5, 5.22) is set to make the start. When last Kyle pitched, I ranted about the downfall of his career. As is often the case when I make such proclamations, I expect Kyle to flash Cy Young form tonight. Sean Manaea (3-3, 3.52) is scheduled to be the opposition.