All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
Yeah, a version of that song played over the credits of a streaming TV show I watched today. It felt appropriate. Giving proper credit, that’s the first verse of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” Certainly, this season has the feeling of a mad, mad world. But then I wonder if the whole of being a Cub fan puts you in the Mad World.
I’ve often described the feeling of being a Cubs fan like the classic Peanuts strip where Lucy yanks the football away. A running gag and every time Lucy is able to convince Charlie Brown that this time is going to be different. Only it’s never different. She always moves the football and he always ends up flat on his back looking up at stars swirling over his head.
Was 2016 even real? Or a collective fever dream? Over and over, we buy into it being next year. Only it’s not next year and we’re back waiting for next year. Next year appears to be coming in May this year. Of course, I don’t mean things turning for the better. I mean the day during the year when we realize that regardless of how much time is left and what else is going on, that this year isn’t going to be the year.
As I sat down to write this, the Rockies were beating up on the Mets and it looked like May 28 would be the date on which the Cubs wake up with the worst record in the National League. The Mets were having none of it. But the Rockies were not to be outdone. They rallied in the bottom of the seventh, added on and cruised to a 10-7 win in a game started by Justin Verlander for the Mets. So yes, the Cubs have awakened May 28 with the worst record in the National League. Is this the bottom yet?
I have to keep reminding myself that Dansby Swanson was part of the free agent class of 2023. That’s so important, because other than Cody Bellinger, this free agent class is looking like it could be an all-time bad one. Brad Boxberger, Jameson Taillon, Tucker Barnhart, Mike Tauchman, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Luis Torrens, Edwin Rios, and Michael Fulmer is the group that played for the major league team. Ryan Borucki was signed and never appeared before being released. Bellinger was great, then torqued his knee and we lost that key piece of the team, for now.
Most of those guys were on the Opening Day roster and frustratingly, many of them appear to have gotten more time than is justified. There is a ton of time left. Certainly, Jameson Taillon wasn’t a clearance rack pick up. Maybe they can get him reset. But man, some of them were historically awful and it’s hard not to want the vast majority of them to just go away.
Saturday night was another rough one, obviously. This was another one that teased. The Cubs were up 4-1 after two and I was already working mentally on the storyline for another lopsided win. Over the next five innings, the Reds would score the next seven runs. The Cubs got one back in the bottom of the seventh, but it was just too late by then and another one got away.
After another rotten game, let’s find the positives.
- The dynamic duo part one, Nico Hoerner had two singles and a walk, he scored one and drove in one.
- The other half, Dansby Swanson, a triple and a single, two RBI and a run
- Mark Leiter Jr. pitched a fairly low leverage ninth inning and retired all three he faced, striking out one.
An honorable mention to Julian Merryweather. He only needed three batters to record three outs despite a hit allowed. In 20 innings since his rough first outing of the year, he’s allowed six runs over 20 innings, good for a 2.70 ERA.
Game 51, May 27: Reds 8, Cubs 5 (22-29)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Nico Hoerner (.207). 2-4, BB, RBI, R
- Hero: Dansby Swanson (.110). 2-5, 3B, 2RBI, R, K
- Kid: Brandon Hughes (.014). IP, 5 batters, H, K, HBP
- Billy Goat: Michael Fulmer (-.310). ⅔ IP, 5 batters, H, 2BB, 2R, 2K
- Goat: Jeremiah Estrada (-.168). ⅔ IP, 5 batters, 3H, 2R
- Kid: Trey Mancini (-.112). 0-3B, BB, K, DP
WPA Play of the Game: Jonathan India batted with a runner on first and two outs in the fifth inning with the Reds down one. He homered and the Reds took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. (.282)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Dansby Swanson batted with runners on second and third with two outs in the second, the Cubs already up by one. He singled and increased that lead to three. (.147)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Javier Assad (Superhero is 35-15)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
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.
- Marcus Stroman +13
- Justin Steele +10
- Mark Leiter Jr. +9.5
- Ian Happ +7
- Dansby Swanson +6.5
- Nico Hoerner -9.5
- Michael Fulmer/Trey Mancini/Jameson Taillon -10
- Patrick Wisdom -10.5
Up Next: The Cubs will try to avert getting swept at home by the Reds. Maybe Drew Smyly (5-1, 2.93, 55⅓ IP) will be the one to stop the bleeding. He’s been dependable so far this season. Over his last seven starts, he is even better (4-0, 2.25).
The Reds will start Graham Ashcraft, who I swear sounds like the name of your financial advisor. The 25-year-old righthander is 2-3 with a 5.57 ERA in 53⅓ IP. A former 6th round pick of the Reds, he will be making his 30th career start. He has a 5.12 ERA across all of those games. The 2022 version of the Cubs scored seven runs against him at Wrigley Field last June 30. The Cubs won that won 15-7, behind four homers including two by Patrick Wisdom (one off of Ashcraft) and one by Christopher Morel.