No matter how you choose to count the week, it hasn’t been a good one for the Cubs. If you start it on Sunday, they’ve got three losses after a five-game win streak that started with a sweep of the Dodgers. If Monday is more your jam, you’re looking at a sweep in Cleveland sandwiched between off-days. Inject a healthy dose of stifled offense into either frame and you’ve got a recipe for supreme frustration.
It helps that the rest of the division outside of St. Louis has played worse over the last 10 games, but that comes as small consolation as the Cubs sit mired in fourth place with no indication that they ride a prolonged heater. Then again, Friday sees the return of Jake Arrieta from the IL. Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner may return as well, greatly improving the depth that had grown woefully thin of late.
What’s more, the Cubs have a chance to get right with three games in Detroit against a team with the second-worst record in baseball. Even better, the Tigers have the game’s worst run differential (-68) from scoring the third-fewest runs (127) and allowing the third-most. If this series isn’t the cure for what ails the Cubs, I don’t know what is.
They’d better hope something shakes loose hitting-wise because they’ve got four at home against the Nationals, who’ve allowed the seventh-fewest runs (138) so far, once they leave Detroit. Following that is a six-game swing through St. Louis and Pittsburgh before returning to Wrigley, which will be at 60% capacity by then, for three against the Reds.
The Cubs have every opportunity to turn things around and vault themselves back into the conversation, but it has to happen now. Following their losses in Cleveland, their playoff odds have dropped to a measly 13.8% that matches their divisional standing. While these projections are anything but ironclad, it’s telling that the Cubs haven’t been above 20% since April 5.
They recently got all the way up to 19.3% before embarking on their current skid, so we’re not talking about huge swings one way or the other. It’s also not even mid-May. Still, failing to capitalize on an upcoming slate of very winnable games and divisional matchups could mean digging a hole too deep to climb out of.
Time to put down those shovels and start raking instead.