Review/Preview: Listless Cubs Limp Home to Face Reds
This is not time to hit the panic button. Not for defending World Champions, not for a team with an overflow of talent, not for a Joe Maddon-led squad.
But say it with me – you can’t make the playoffs early in the season, but you sure can play your way out of them. Something’s off and needs to be fixed; that is certain. Aside from the recent rash of injuries, it’s just hard to say what exactly. The easiest way for me to explain it is … they just feel wrong, or uncomfortable.
Now with a losing record and a fourth-place residence in the Central Division, the Cubs (18-19) look listless, injured, sick and unmotivated (aside from Willson Contreras, who’s always thumping his chest).
Let me float a theory out there from my perspective.
If the Cubs are going to be the dynasty that everyone believes they will be, they need to learn to work their way out of prolonged struggle and mediocrity. They did so in an NLCS deficit to the Dodgers and a 3-1 World Series hole to the Indians. They proved they are never out of a series once everything clicks.
This isn’t a series. Sometimes there isn’t a rain delay to turn a season around.
The regular season is the long haul and last year was a cakewalk to a comfy playoff berth and home field throughout the NL playoffs. Thank goodness the NL Central is not exactly firing on all cylinders, nor should anyone really run away with the division crown. The Cubs will be in this to the end – they are very lucky they are only one game below the equator and only 3.5 games out of first place for as subpar they’ve played defensively and on the mound.
Sure, Kyle Schwarber is probably not the answer at leadoff. And maybe there is a trade for a front-end starting pitcher on the horizon that could bump a struggling starter out of the rotation. These are all symptoms, not the problem.
Enter the Cincinnati Reds – who could serve as a potential slumpbuster for the Cubs after the Reds lost three out of four to another struggle bus, the San Francisco Giants. Here’s how the teams stack up for their three-game set at Wrigley this week:
Minor League Notes
- Trevor Clifton was dealing again Sunday for the Class AA Tennessee Smokies, and now he owns a sparkling 2.37 ERA on the season. He was scoreless through five and struck out seven in six innings. The Cubs pitching prospects have been fun to track thus far with Dylan Cease, Justin Steele, Thomas Hatch and Clifton each showing major upside on the young season (and Jose Albertos hype included).
- Could one of these starters be the focal point of a package for a front-end starter by midseason? I’d think that along with one of the Cubs minor-league power bats, another team would ask for one of these potential aces in return. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi are two names who’ve been mentioned time and time again; landing an arm such as Archer would require a haul of talent going back to Tampa Bay.
- Eloy Jimenez suited up for the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Jimenez finished 1-for-4 with an RBI and three walks. There is likely to be more gaudy numbers to come for highly touted outfielder.