Cubs News: September Struggles
Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports

Cubs News: September Struggles

by - Staff Writer -

The Cubs have been one of baseball’s best teams since the All-Star break. They finished the month of August with a solid 18-9 record, which included seven series wins and a series split out of the month’s nine series. Tony Andracki from Marquee Sports Network said it was the Cubs' best month since 2021.

That torrid hot stretch since the All-Star break has made it possible for the Cubs to get into the playoff picture — and even hold possession of a Wild Card playoff spot. Since August 6th, the Cubs have held a playoff spot. They have narrowed the division deficit to below two games and have held possession of the No. 2 wild card spot for various amounts of time during the last month or so.

The Cubs played a critical 7-3 in a ten-game stretch against Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, which spanned the end of August and the beginning of September. However, since then, it has been tough sledding. The Cubs dropped three of four against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team chasing them in the standings, two of three against the last-place Colorado Rockies, and then fell in the first two games of this current series against the Diamondbacks. 2-7 in their last nine games could not have come at a worse time for a hopeful club. The Cubs now trail the Brewers in the NL Central by 6.5 games and only hold a half-game lead over the Diamondbacks and Reds for the second wild-card spot, and the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants are chomping at the bit, each less than three games behind the scuffling Cubs.

With only 13 games left, there is no room for error. The Cubs finish this season with one final game against Arizona, a home stand at Wrigley against the Pirates and Rockies, and two series where they must take advantage of inferior opponents. Then the season ends in gauntlet fashion, on the road against the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Although, the way both teams are currently playing, the last week of the season may be more of a reset and rest week for the perspective teams who lead their perspective divisions.

As for the Cubs, things haven’t gone their way for many reasons. For starters, a team that scorching hot was bound to regress to the mean at some point — but why has it happened now? A once solid starting rotation has become thin. Marcus Stroman has been injured for over a month and has just returned via the bullpen. Drew Smyly’s struggles have grown so prominent that short stints out of the bullpen are the only thing David Ross trusts him to do. Jameson Taillon is a true hit-or-miss starter, with far more misses. Rookie Jordan Wicks and transitioned starter Javier Assad have both performed admirably — but can not be relied on to deliver a type number each time out. Justin Steele and Kyle Hendricks have been better than solid, but with the bullpen being especially taxed by the crutches of the other starters, these two have been relied on to carry more than they should. Not to mention, the injury bug has bit this staff as of late. Michael Fulmer, Adbert Alzolay, and Jeimer Candelario have gone on the inured list lately.

Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ have been struggling mightily at the plate. Christopher Morel has turned boom or bust. An offense that has produced the most runs since the All-Star break (thanks in most part to Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki) has been held to two runs or less eight times in the last 18 contests.

The struggles in September have made Cubs fans think of the 2018 and 2019 teams. The former choked away the division and dropped both a game 163 and the lone wild card game, and the latter suffered a 10-game losing streak that dropped the team out of playoff contention for the first time since 2014. The fact of the matter is this team has gone cold collectively at a very inopportune time. However, with 13 games and their fate still in hand, a magical second half has all the tools to continue and develop into a memorable ending at Wrigley Field.

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