The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a game in over a week. Their brutal losing streak has been extended to nine games. In this stretch, they went from being tied for first place in the NL Central to being eight and a half games back. Chicago is now in third place and sitting right at .500 with a record of 42-42. The trajectory of the season has shifted dramatically. They’ve went from potential contenders to possible sellers at the trade deadline.
Nine-Game Cubs Losing Streak
Not much has gone right for the Cubs’ during this inopportune losing streak. They have managed to lose games in all sorts of ways. The losing skid began after their combined no-hitter versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. That game must have woken up the Dodgers’ bats because the Cubs’ dropped the final threes games in the series, and limped into a tough matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers. With injury troubles and poor starting pitching, Chicago struggled against an impressive Brewers team.
Their division rival tallied 31 runs in three games. Which ended the month of June with a costly sweep for the Cubs. It was the first time that they were swept all season, and it couldn’t of come at a worst time. They dug themselves a huge hole in the division standings that just keeps getting bigger. Especially after getting swept once again. This time it was three consecutive one-run losses to the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, the Brewers just put together an 11-game winning streak.
Starting Pitching Woes
During this long losing streak, the Cubs’ has only gotten two quality starts. Those came from Adbert Alzolay and Kyle Hendricks this weekend. Other than that, there has been several forgettable performances from their rotation. They’ve given up a ton of early runs and have had high pitch counts, which can be attributed to rising walk rates. The bullpen has been asked to cover more innings. This has put a strain on the middle relievers and has lead to some clear regression. Even so, statistically Chicago still has one of the best pens in MLB. That remains a small bright spot.
The Cubs knew that their starting rotation wouldn’t be a strength coming into the season. They were even candidates to acquire a veteran pitcher at the trade deadline, but that ship may have sailed. With them suddenly falling behind in the division, the front office might not address the issue at all. Seeing as they’ll have much bigger decisions to make, like potentially shipping away one of their stars by the end of the month. Manager David Ross will just have to work with what he’s got when it comes to their lackluster rotation.
Inconsistent Production and Injuries
If there is one way to describe the Cubs lineup, it’s that they’re consistently inconsistent. They’ve been this way for years now. Chicago is one of the streakiest teams in baseball, and it just so happens that they’re in another slump. For many teams, individual players go into slumps, but it seems that the Cubs’ entire roster has that tendency. They began the 2021 season in one, and then broke out to the surprise of many. Now, they’ll have to do it again, but this time there’s a much bigger sense of urgency.
Chicago is missing key contact hitters in Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have also missed time with injuries, but these are issues that every other organization has faced as well. As a team, they strikeout nearly ten times per game. On top of that, the Cubs have a team batting average of .223. That’s the third worst rank in both categories. When they’re playing well, the ball is usually getting hit out of the park. They are very reliant on the home run ball, so it’s no surprise that these slumps keep occurring. While there has been hope that they can fix these trends, they are over half way through the season, and still have the same problems at the plate.
A Unique Situation
This past week has really put a damper on their season. It looked like they were prepared to ride out the year with the current roster, and make minor moves to generate more success. Now, they are back to square one, which leaves the front office in a unique situation. They may feel inclined to make some major trades this month. This Cubs’ losing streak could force their hand, especially if it goes on any further.
Milwaukee has taken a commanding lead in the division, and has won all four head-to-head series against the Cubs thus far. The probability that the Cubs’ make a playoff run is becoming less likely by the day. It is reasonable to think that Chicago will be active in the trade market, as the confidence in this roster starts to fade. Usually nine games out of a long season aren’t very impactful, but in this case, it’s a very big deal. Decisions have to be made quickly in the ‘Friendly Confines’.