The Chicago Cubs have been baseball's most disappointing team
It never fails: Every baseball season, a few teams simply don’t live up to expectations. This can happen for a variety of reasons, especially given the pandemic, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on one team expected by some to make a run at a playoff spot that is instead fighting to stay out of the cellar.
The Cubs have stumbled out of the gates
The Chicago Cubs were predicted to win 91 games by ESPN. The PECOTA model had the Cubs as an 85-win team. Instead, as of this writing, Chicago is just 12-16 and tied for last in the NL Central. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played, and it’s not like the division leaders have built an insurmountable lead (the difference between first and last is just 4.5 games), but the early numbers tell a story, and it’s not a pretty one.
World Series 2021
Tue, November 2 2021, 11:00 PM
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
New York Mets
Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox
Chicago's pitching has been abysmal
The Cubs have lost seven of their last nine games, and their pitching has really betrayed them. Jake Arrieta leads the rotation with a 4.31 ERA, and as a team, Chicago’s earned run average is currently 5.01. It’s gotten bad enough that three position players have already made appearances on the mound (though, to be fair, one of them involved Anthony Rizzo striking out Freddie Freeman, which provided tons of entertainment).
The Cubs' awful offense isn't scaring anyone
The inhabitants of Wrigley Field were also expected to boast a powerful lineup. Kris Bryant has bounced back from a terrible 2020, for sure, and if he continues at this torrid pace, he’ll be in line for the best season of his career. However, that’s about where the praise should stop.
Rizzo’s hitting just .222, while starters Jason Hayward and Ian Happ are both below the Mendoza Line. Javier Baez and Willson Contreras have each shown some power, but Baez has struck out 39 times in 94 at-bats and Contreras is hitting a mere .238.
Can Chicago turn things around?
Again, it’s not like the Cubs are doomed. There’s plenty of time for Chicago to right the ship, and while the Brewers and Cardinals are solid, they’re far from uncatchable. Having said that, the Cubs will certainly need to play better than they have so far if they want a chance to live up to their potential this season.