Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bear Witness


After looking impressive through their first month and a half of MLB play, the 2024 Chicago Cubs completely hit a wall. And thus, they've spent the last month or so just completely falling apart. Which honestly, even if it's a well timed skid by an overconfident club, is kinda hard to watch.

Look, even at their current state, the Cubs began this season with an amazing amount of hubris. They managed to get Craig Counsell to come over, from their chief divisional rival, and sign a contract to manage there for the foreseeable future. Forget screwing over David Ross. They got a great manager, and the fans were really impressed. Then they re-sign Cody Bellinger, get Shota Imanaga, who's still excellent, and wrangled Hector Neris over and prevented the Yankees from being stuck with him when he inevitably started tanking in the ninth again. They go into the 2024 season as overwhelming favorites, even over the Reds and Brewers, solely because they have the money to get people and the organizational depth to build off it.

And then the season starts and lol Cubs.

It's not without a conscious effort to not suck. The Cubs' pitching is very good, but saddled with terrible luck. Justin Steele has his ERA under 4, but he's still 0-3 and nowhere near his 2023 self. Kyle Hendricks will have amazing starts, as he just did, and also many terrible starts. Then, just when Ben Brown figures out how to start, he gets hurt. I'll give the Cubs credit for making Hayden Wesneski and Drew Smyly, and Luke Little, into halfway decent bullpen options.

But...the strong, varied offensive core of this Cubs team just hasn't shown up. Dansby Swanson, one of the 2023 standouts, is having a weaker year, he's only hitting .214. Nico Hoerner's only hitting .243. Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger are in the .260s, nowhere near their highs. The only Cubs hitter with an OPS over .800 is...former Dodgers prospect Michael Busch, who has somehow become the Cubs' first baseman and is surprisingly hitting really damned well. I mean, in all actuality he's hitting as well as Suzuki and Bellinger, but his accuracy and consistency has given him the edge. He's had less at-bats than his contemporaries and more success in those at-bats. It's also just fun that he's suddenly come up and become a major factor in this Cubs team. A lot like Patrick Wisdom in 2021, though...Wisdom, like other establishment Cubs, isn't doing much at all.

It's really just Busch and Ian Happ who have WARs higher than 1.0, and with Happ it's because of his defense probably. So that's a lot of people who are here, and are healthy, and just aren't hitting. Even Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was hitting initially, has cooled down and isn't doing a ton.

The Cubs are currently in fourth place, and though they've improved slightly, they need to unstick themselves from the mud and get back to what they were doing before if they have any hope of looking intimidating at all this year. 

Coming Tomorrow- One of the few starters in Texas that hasn't gotten hurt yet.

1 comment:

  1. The Cubs' hitting and bullpen woes have been the hot topic on the sports radio in recent weeks. Folks are hoping Hendricks' run in the bullpen will help straighten him out, as well as complain on the cheapness of the front office.