What is going on with the Chicago Cubs?

by Admin
What is going on with the Chicago Cubs?

With their series loss against the Cardinals this past Sunday, the Cubs have now lost eight of their past nine series and fallen to last place in the National League Central Division.

How? The team was vibing. On April 26, the Cubs sat second place behind the Brewers. Surprisingly in April, the offense was led by outfielder Mike Tauchman, who was providing the most offensive output. In the early going, Seiya Suzuki and Michael Busch were consistently supplying power.

Where the offense really specialized early in the season was offensive production, with runners in scoring position (RISP). From the beginning of the season to April 26, the Cubs were one of the best teams in the league with RISP. They were third in weighted on-base average (wOBA) and second in weighted runs created plus (wRC+), led the league in isolated power (ISO) and were simply impressive and fun to watch with a 17-9 record. 

Despite the exciting start to the season, key players such as Ian Happ, Dansby Swanson and Christopher Morel were flat out not playing up to par, with each of the three having an on-base plus slugging (OPS) under .710. This can become a problem when two of your highest paid players are being outperformed by a player making a fraction of their salary. And no, that is not a dock against Tauchman, he has been one of the Cubs’ most consistent hitters since he joined the team last spring.

Since April 26, the Cubs have completely disappeared with RISP. After being one of the top teams, the Cubs have slipped down in wOBA, wRC+ and ISO. Since coming back from injury, Suzuki has not looked consistently sharp. After having a .277 expected batting average (xBA) against the slider last year, it dropped to .168 this year. Suzuki’s kryptonite this season, the changeup, has accounted for a disastrous 44.4% strikeout rate.  

Inconsistencies against pitch types have been a common trend among the entirety of the Cubs lineup. Happ is crushing the fastball but has batting averages that are lower against breaking and off-speed pitches. Swanson’s favorite pitch to hit throughout his entire career has been the fastball, but he has only a .175 batting average against the four-seam fastball this year. Not to mention, the Cubs are getting absolutely no production from their catchers, Miguel Amaya and Yan Gomes, who both have batting averages under .190.

On top of all the offensive issues, the Cubs defense has not been good either. It doesn’t look like reigning Gold Glove champions Swanson and Nico Hoerner will be repeating. The Cubs also have no discipline on the base paths.

At the start of the season, the bullpen was completely unwatchable. Adbert Alzolay, Jose Cuas, Drew Smyly and Luke Little were guys who were solid in 2023, but unfortunately the season has not gone as planned for many. Since April 30, however, the bullpen has been fair with 3.89 fielding independent pitching (FIP), but this still has not mattered because the Cubs do not have an arm that they could trust in the ninth inning.

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