By Todd Johnson
Hope is a powerful thing.
Right now there is not a lot of it at the major-league level for the Cubs. With 100 games to go, they are mired in mediocrity. Throughout the rest of the organization, hope is everywhere. The MLB draft this week will see the Cubs select 40 new players including two in the first round. Three of the Cubs affiliates are in the hunt for playoff spots this week as their seasons wrap up on Sunday the 18th. And, you can also add in that short season Eugene and rookie league Mesa begin play this week.
But in Chicago…
As I wrote in my recap of the Cubs win today vs. Colorado at BP Wrigleyville, there’s not one place you can point the finger at as to why the Cubs are not achieving. You can’t. Every aspect of the team has been lacking. Luckily, they have the rest of the summer to fix their offense, defense, and pitching.
Playing into November brought the Cubs a World Series championship. However, there have been several side effects of that run. It has taken its toll on the starting pitching. The starting pitching ERA is two runs higher than it was a year ago. That’s hard to overcome. In the next two months I expect the Cubs to make a deal for at least one starting pitcher to finish this year, and I see them picking up an additional arm in a prospect for prospect deal.
Coming into the year, I thought the bullpen would be the weakness of this team. Instead, Wade Davis has been unbelievable as the closer. Carl Edwards, Jr. is a breath of fresh air as has been the Koji Uehara. Sure there have been problems with Grimm, but I think those have been straightened out. I think there is still some (but not much) tinkering left to do as the trade deadline draws near.
As for the offense, not much has gone right. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jason Heyward seem to be pretty stable. The rest of the team is been a straight up dumpster fire most days. At this point, I don’t even want to look at or even type any of their offensive statistics despite four timely home runs today.
The season is far from over and I still have hope. But it’s not going to change overnight. It could take a while to right the ship.
To be quite frank, I don’t think this gets fixed until after the All-Star break. That means another 3 to 4 weeks of ups and downs. I think those four days off in July should be the difference in the season.
In retrospect, this season is isn’t that much different from the 2015 season where the Cubs just poured it on in the second half to get to 97 wins. I don’t think they can get to 97 this year, but they can win the division.
The schedule in the second half suits the Cubs much better and should provide for a run. That’s what I am hoping for. And, I think it will happen. Right now, it may be ugly to watch, but I think they will come out the other side.