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The 2024 Chicago Cubs: What’s Going On?

The Chicago Cubs may only be 77 games into the young season, but their results so far have been extremely disappointing. The team currently sits at a record of 37-40, 4th place in the NL Central, and two games back for the final wild-card spot behind the San Diego Padres.

The 2024 Chicago Cubs: What’s Going On?

Offseason Moves

Coming into the season, Cubs fans had lofty aspirations for another potential deep playoff run, as the front office made a drastic change to the Cubs coaching staff by releasing general manager David Ross to make space to sign Craig Counsell, who led the Brew Crew to 4 straight playoff appearances from 2018-2021, to a 40 million dollar contract over 5 years, making him the highest paid manager in MLB history. The signing of Counsell would mark the beginning of a flurry of signings that would ensue over the upcoming months of the offseason, including the re-signing of Cody Bellinger to bolster the outfield and inking Japanese pitching phenom Shota Imanaga to a contract, slotting him into the starting pitching rotation.

For much of the offseason, the Cubs seemed to be hitting free agency on all fronts. However, they forgot to hit the nail in the coffin on one key part of the roster: the bullpen. The moment free agency ended and spring training started to roll around, many were perplexed about why the Cubs front office hadn’t made any significant changes to the bullpen, which had a collective ERA of 4.08, ranking 13th in the MLB. They had signed a few relief pitchers, such as former Oakland Athletic Richard Lovelady and former World Series champion Hector Neris, but neither had any eye-catching numbers from their past few seasons in the majors. Unfortunately, only one of the two pitchers would see the light of day in the Windy City, as Richard Lovelady was designated for assignment after putting up a dismal ERA of 7.94, along with a record of 0-1 over his 7 games of work. 

Pitching Struggles

This oversight has haunted the Cubs early in the season. The bullpen’s performance thus far has been abysmal. Multiple blown saves and late-inning collapses have cost the team winnable games. While a step up from Lovelady, Hector Neris has been inconsistent, contributing to a bullpen ERA currently at 4.44, ranking 8th worst in the MLB. He has also been notorious for allowing multiple runners on base in several close situations this season, earning him the nickname “Heart Attack Hector” from Cubs fans. This glaring weakness has put immense pressure on the starting rotation and the offense, often forcing them to compensate for late-game deficits.

The starting rotation, while anchored by the stellar performances of Shota Imanaga, who posted a remarkable 1.89 ERA through his first 10 starts with a WHIP of 0.99, has seen significant struggles from other key members. Jordan Wicks, who was expected to be a reliable arm, has not lived up to expectations. He currently holds an ERA of 4.18, with a WHIP of 1.46, often failing to get through the middle innings without damage. Similarly, veteran Kyle Hendricks has struggled mightily, posting an ERA of 7.46 with a WHIP of 1.58, showing signs of decline and inconsistency that have plagued his outings.

Position Player Struggles

Offensively, the Cubs have been equally unpredictable. Cody Bellinger, who was re-signed with hopes of recapturing his MVP form, has been a bright spot, leading the team with a .270 batting average while posting 9 home runs and 33 RBIs. However, the rest of the lineup has been a mixed bag. Michael Busch and Seiya Suzuki have provided solid contributions, with Busch batting .261 and Suzuki leading the team with an OPS of .796, but key players like Ian Happ and Christopher Morel have underperformed. Happ is batting just .231 with the team’s most strikeouts, and Morel, despite showing promise, is hitting barely above the dreaded Mendoza line with a batting average of .202, leading to an offense that ranks 18th in the league in runs scored, averaging 4.21 runs per game.

One area that has added to the Cubs’ woes has been their defense. Despite having gold-glove caliber players like Swanson and Bellinger, the team has struggled defensively, ranking 23rd in the MLB. The Cubs have a total of -12 defensive runs saved (DRS). This indicates that their fielding has often cost them runs rather than prevent them. This defensive inconsistency has exacerbated the bullpen’s shortcomings and the team’s overall struggles, making it even harder to secure wins. The poor defensive performance has put additional strain on the pitching staff. It has forced them to work harder to overcome defensive lapses and prevent runs.

Necessary Adjustments

However, the Cubs still hope to turn their season around. First and foremost, the front office must address the bullpen issues. Exploring trade options for reliable relievers such as Mason Miller or Edwin Díaz could significantly bolster the bullpen. Danny Jansen or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could also provide the offensive spark the team desperately needs.

Manager Craig Counsell will also need to make strategic adjustments. This includes more effective bullpen management and optimizing the lineup to maximize offensive output. Focusing on defensive drills and improving overall fielding could help mitigate the impact of defensive lapses.

Looking ahead, the Cubs have a critical stretch of games approaching. With matchups against divisional rivals and other wild-card contenders, this period could make or break their season. It’s crucial for the Cubs to capitalize on these opportunities and build momentum.


In conclusion, the Cubs’ 2024 season has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Despite high expectations and significant offseason acquisitions, the team has struggled to find its footing. As the season progresses, it will be crucial for the Cubs to address their bullpen issues, seek consistency from their starters, and get more production from their lineup. The next few weeks will be telling for the team’s future direction. Cubs fans are anxiously awaiting to see if their beloved team can turn things around.

Main Photo Credits: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports


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