Going into the weekend versus the Brewers, the Cubs seemed to be pretty comfortable with a five-game lead in the NL Central. Well, now things don’t feel so comfortable after the Beermakers swept the Cubs fairly easily. Lowlighting the series was the 15-2 drubbing that was the worst loss the Cubs have endured this year.
In the past eight games, the Cubs are averaging a meager 2 runs per game while allowing 5.38 runs per game. That’s not exactly a recipe for success, and their 2-6 record shows it. That average, however, is deceiving, as Cubs pitching allowed 27 runs in two of those games combined, leaving 16 total runs allowed for the other six. The point of that is to say the onus isn’t on the pitching. The offense hasn’t done much of anything over that eight-game stretch, getting shut out three times and only scoring three or more runs twice in that stretch.
In the last seven days, the most valuable offensive players (using fWAR) have been Rene Rivera, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, Rob Zastryzny and Ben Zobrist. They’ve all been worth 0.1 fWAR. I get that it’s an extremely small sample, but it goes to show that the guys you expect to see carrying the offense haven’t done so. As a team, they have slashed .218/.281/.315 with a wRC+ of 58 conjured by 11 doubles, one triple, and only two dongs. That’s really, really bad. In order for the Cubs to have any hope of success in the postseason, they have to try to be more consistent with their offense, rather than getting hot for a week or so and then going cold for the following week.
The Mets come to town for a three-game series here at the tail end of an interesting year filled with questionable handling of their injured players, especially their young arms. It started earlier in the season with their mishandling of Noah Syndergaard, who still hasn’t returned from his partial left lat tear. The most recent weirdness was related with Matt Harvey, who recently returned from the DL with a broken scapula. Last week Terry Collins and Co. intended on having Harvey pitch on three days’ rest after having only pitched once since he returned to the team.
Coming into the season, everybody expected the Mets’ pitching staff to be one of the best, and they were up there until the injuries started decimated their arms. So far in the second half of the season, they’ve been middle of the pack with a 4.75 staff ERA and sitting at 15th according to fWAR. Jacob deGrom, who the Cubs will fortunately miss this series, has been the best starter by far on that pitching staff.
The offense has done a little worse than average (17th) in the second half, but they’ve recently started hitting well over the last month or so. Brandon Nimmo and Jose Reyes lead the way for this month with a 0.6 fWAR apiece. Both of the aforementioned players have posted a BB/K of at least 1.0, which means they are striking out at the same rate as walking or not striking out as much as they are walking.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, September 12 at 7:05 CT on CSN
- Wednesday, September 13 at 7:05 CT on WGN
- Thursday, September 14 at 7:05 on ABC-7
What to Watch For
- Focus on the offense this series. They need to be better at not only getting on base, but also driving in men who have reached base. With an average (at best) pitching staff coming to town, it is the perfect opportunity for the Cubs to right the ship and head in the right direction on offense.
- Watch for Jason Heyward at the plate, although that may be a frustrating experience. I know the rest of the offense needs to pick up the pace, but at this point Heyward hasn’t really shown he should be an every day starter.
- Look for Kyle Schwarber to see some action. With three righties scheduled to start, one would expect to see Scwarbs getting more playing time this series. His absence in the lineup has been rather head-scratching, especially after Joe Maddon said that he was basing who played on matchups.