Welcome back to another edition of #TinThoughts folks. As my loyal readers know, this is a forum where I just dump all of my thoughts out in absolutely no particular order. The Chicago Cubs are my life blood so try to follow along as I talk you irrational Cubs fans off a ledge.
The Cubs are on a current hot streak of scoring 1 run a game. The last 5 games the Cubs have scored one single run in each game. Not the best formula for winning if you ask me. Somehow, they are 2-3 in those games. I am here to tell you this will not continue. The Cubs will break out of this funk. The Cubs currently score 4.75 runs per game, good for 8th in the MLB and 2nd in the NL. They have offense on the way folks.
This leads me to Daniel Murphy. Cubs fans remember Murphy as the guy who ruined the magical 2015 playoff run and crushed hearts in the NLCS with the Mets. Well, the good news is this guy can hit. He cannot play defense well at all so don’t expect much there. He has spent much of 2018 on the disabled list but in the 11 games since the All-Star game he is slashing .340/.383/.510. He rarely hits for soft contact and is a veteran hitter that at the absolute worst can provide a strong bat off the bench come October. He also provides relief for Addison Russell who has been playing through an injury for a few weeks now. I expect him to hit the DL in the coming days to provide his hand and his brain some rest.
The other offense they have on the way is a man that goes by the name of Kris Bryant. Remember him? He is the guy that David Bote has wonderfully filled in for. He won the 2016 MVP and is the best player on this Cubs team. He recently resumed full batting practice and I expect him to be back in the next few weeks. HELP IS ON THE WAY DEAR!!
A big reason for the offensive struggle is the performance of Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras. Since the All-Star break the two have the following slash lines:
Schwarber (101 PAs): .227/.317/.386
Contreras (93 PAs): .232/.323/.329
Not ideal. I have no statistics to back one of them getting hot before the postseason. I am here to tell you that this will not continue for both of them. They are both entirely too good of hitters to be performing this poorly. They both love the spotlight and I expect them both to break out of this funk sooner or later.
The Cubs still rank 1st in the MLB in OBP, 7th in the MLB in run differential, 3rd in the MLB in hits per game, 3rd in the MLB in walks per game, and 2nd in the MLB in batting average. This offense is good, it is just going through a cold streak. Not to mention, the Cubs still have an MVP candidate in Javy Baez. Relax about the offense you lunatics.
Alright Tin, this is entirely too positive. You are just an optimistic Cubs fan. Be real with us for a second.
Ask and you shall receive. Yu Darvish is not coming back this season. It was announced on Tuesday that Darvish will be shut down for the season with a stress reaction in his elbow and a triceps strain. This is not good news. Yu has been an extreme disappointment since signing with the Cubs. He has shown he is also mentally unstable. During the trip to LA earlier this year, Darvish stayed in the dugout the entire series because he did not want to hear boos from fans. His personal catcher leaked information that he did not feel welcome in Chicago and did not like the criticism he was receiving from the fans. Well Yu, when you sign in a big market city for a lot of money you are going to be criticized when you perform poorly. I do not know how this is going to play out. I am trying to stay optimistic about Yu but it has gotten very difficult. Shutting him down for the season was the best thing to do. I will not judge him for his hesitancy to come back to pitch. He is not mentally weak for that, any Cubs fan that says that needs to take a look at their own mental state. Yu needs time to mentally get in the right place as well as revamp his pitching.
Okay, enough pessimism. Let’s talk about the rest of the pitching staff. This is another part of the Cubs that has been quite shaky. There have been stretches of consistency but for the most part this staff has been a complete disappointment. Kyle Hendricks has looked lost at times. Lester has shown stretches of dominance. Quintana has made every Cubs fan question this Eloy trade, including me. (They still have multiple years of control so I refuse to freak out just yet). Darvish, well we already talked about that mental midget. Cole Hamels is an absolute stud and could be the game 1 starter of the NLDS. Tyler Chatwood would have trouble getting out of the 3rd inning in a high school game. The bullpen has been extremely solid all year. The slack from Morrow’s injury has been picked up by the usual cast of characters in the pen.
To bring this all together, I am not exactly sure which Cubs team will show up come October. Yes, they will be playing in October. I don’t care how close the Cardinals or the Brewers are. They do not scare me one bit. This team knows what it is like to be in a stretch run. They have been to the NLCS the last three years and have won a World Series. At this point, they are veterans come September and October. They have the best record in the National League. Fangraphs gives them an 85.7% chance to win the division. They also predict they will finish with a record of 93-69, good for best in the National League.
I am not sure if at their best they have enough to beat the multiple powerhouses in the American League. I don’t know if they will click at the right time to create another magical postseason run. I do know this. This is the greatest era of Cubs baseball in the last 100 years. Their recent success has put any sort of blip in the radar under a large microscope. It is important to take a step back and look at the big picture. This team has such high standards that is now World Series Championship or the season is lost. This team used to regularly lose 90+ games. One year of being in the wild card race was exciting. Do not take this era of Cubs baseball for granted. The window could come crashing down at any moment. Baseball is a funny game, anything can happen. Enjoy the run folks, it’s been a hell of a ride.
P.S. If it doesn’t work out this year, ol’ Mr. Ricketts has a big stack of cash waiting for a certain somebody.