Cubs 1-5 record: A look at where things went from bad to terrible

by - Columnist -
Epstein hopes his bullpen turns it around fast (Brett Davis USAT)
Epstein hopes his bullpen turns it around fast (Brett Davis USAT)

Today marks the seventh day of the 2019 season for the Cubs, and if you’re not at least somewhat concerned about the way the season has started, you may have a career waiting as a head-cheerleader.

Before I get started, let’s get one thing straight, I don’t get frustrated that the Cubs lose (all teams suffer losses), I get frustrated about how Chicago loses. I’ve watched this team for the better part of almost 50 years now, and I’ve seen some awful rosters come and go, and I’ve seen some of the better versions of the Cubs’ teams get so close yet fall so short. The current roster features some of the best (and potentially best) players in the franchise’s history, so when they can’t string together two wins in six games against teams which are projected to finish in fourth place in their respective divisions, then yes, I get confused on what is happening.

The pitching is definitely a problem, with the Cubs now allowing 47 runs in 49.1 innings pitched, the most they have allowed in the first six games of a season since they allowed 57 in 1901.

Why this is not weighing heavy on Joe Maddon’s mind, I’ll never know.

"I've been here before, so it's not heavy for me," Maddon told reporters on Thursday night. "The biggest thing if you have been able to watch all of our games, we have actually played some really good baseball. We've had a couple of bad games here. We've got to get our bullpen in order. We played well in Texas. We hit the ball well like you saw at the end of the game today. No question we have to play a more complete game of baseball and we will. We got to get the bullpen defined."

I have to take issue with Maddon’s words here. First, the Cubs have played one “really good” game all season- their first (and Joe, I have watched all of the games). You’ve had more than a couple of bad games, as the bullpen has let lead after lead, and win after win slip away. The team played well in Texas? Yep, you smoked the Rangers in the opener, but after that, you went 0-2 with the bullpen losing both games, and allowing leads to slip away while walking guys left and right. We do agree on one thing; you need to define the bullpen. Guys that were good last year have failed miserably this year, while the “failures” from last year have flourished, for the most part. Let’s examine things…

A look at the first six games:

Game 1: Cubs @ Rangers: Final score Cubs- 12; Rangers- 4. Cubs go 13 for 37 (.351 team average), 8 walks, 7 strikeouts. Of the entire starting lineup and bench, only Willson Contreras (0-3, two walks) and Daniel Descalso (0-1) failed to hit (Victor Caratini did not play). Cubs left 21 men stranded. Defensively, Jon Lester was strong for six innings, allowing two runs (one homer), while striking out three and walking a pair. The bullpen faltered some in the ninth, with Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery each allowing a run. In short, the Cubs dominated the game.

Game 2: Cubs @ Rangers: Final score Cubs- 6; Rangers- 8. Cubs go 9 for 34 (.265), 7 walks, 5 strikeouts, 23 men left on. Schwarber and Contreras each go 3 for 5, and Javier Baez goes 2 for 4. Schwarber homers. Defensively, Yu Darvish: 2.2 IP, 3 ER (1 HR), two hits, seven walks, four strikeouts Bullpen: 5.1 IP, eight hits, 3 ER, 5 BB, and nine strikeouts.

Game 3: Cubs @ Rangers: Final score Cubs- 11; Rangers- 12. Cubs go 17 for 43 (.395), 3 walks, 9 strikeouts (Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber both homer). Cubs leave 19 stranded. Defensively: Cole Hamels: 5.0 IP, six hits, three walks, four strikeouts. Bullpen: 3.1 IP, five hits (2 HR), 6 ER, three walks, three strikeouts.

Game 4: Cubs @ Braves: Final score Cubs- 0; Rangers- 8. The wheels fell off of the train. Offensively: 9 for 33 (.273), four walks, five strikeouts, 21 men stranded. Defensively: Kyle Hendricks: 4.1 IP, 10 H (2 HR), 7 R (2 ER), 3 BB, four strikeouts. Bullpen: 3.2 IP, two hits, one run (0 ER), four walks, five strikeouts. Cubs commit six errors.

Game 5: Cubs @ Braves: Final score Cubs- 4; Rangers- 6. Offensively: 12 for 35 (.343), 6 walks, 13 strikeouts, 21 runners left on base. Defensively: Lester: 6.0 IP, 2 ER (2 HR), 6 H, 3 BB, 7. Bullpen: 2.0 IP, (5 relievers used), two hits, 4 ER, five walks, one strikeout.

Game 6: Cubs @ Braves: Final score Cubs- 4; Rangers-9. Offensively: 6 for 33 (.182), 3 walks, 7 strikeouts (back-to-back homers by Rizzo and Baez), 9 men stranded. Defensively: Darvish: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 strikeouts. Bullpen: 2 IP, two hits, 4 ER, five walks, one strikeout.

To sum this up: Offensively: Good news- 66 for 215 (.307 which leads the majors), .398 on-base percentage (tops in majors) with 31 walks (14%).

Bad news: 46 strikeouts (29.39%) and 114 men left on base. Pitching (bad news): 49.1 IP, 47 Runs, 61 Hits, 41 Walks. ERA: Starters: 4.85; Relievers: 14.22, Entire pitching staff: 9.54. WHIP: Starters: 2.150; Relievers: 2.676; Entire pitching staff: 2.413.

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