Wanna guess which team has the worst road record in the National League? It’s not the Marlins (20-30), nor is it the Reds (21-31). No, the Cubs are actually the bumblingest road squad in the Senior Circuit, posting a 21-33 mark that has left everyone in the organization vexed.
“I don’t have an answer for you, I don’t,” Joe Maddon said after Thursday’s loss in St. Louis. “I honestly don’t have a solid opinion, I don’t. I normally do, but I can’t put my finger on this one. It’s perplexing.”
This is clearly a very good team, as both their pedigree and home record can attest. In fact, only three teams in baseball (Yankees, Astros, Dodgers) have better marks at home than the Cubs’ 36-18 at Wrigley.
“No idea. If I knew, we’d fix it,” an irritated Jon Lester quipped. “I can’t answer it. Obviously, we like Wrigley and we don’t like anywhere else.”
That same feeling runs all the way up to the front office that spoke so boldly this offseason about fixing a broken offense, only to make Daniel Descalso their splashiest signing. Between injuries, underperformance, and all manner of inconsistency in every facet of the game, it’s felt at times like the Cubs are just bailing water from a leaky ship.
Or perhaps it’s more fitting to say they’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Even Theo Epstein seems to be feeling that way lately, as he expressed to 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh Friday morning.
“We’re obviously trying to figure it out, but if we knew what it was, we would’ve fixed it,” Epstein said. “I will say it hasn’t been a hallmark of this group. We’ve played well on the road most years in this window. But this year, honestly, we’re embarrassed by the road performance, not having won a road series since May 20.
“And to me, more troubling even than that is we’ve had seven road series against the division and we’re 0-7. We’ve lost every single road series against division opponents. That’s just not going to win anything. That’s not going to be competitive in a division, if every time you go play a division opponent on the road, you lose. That has to change. That has to change immediately.
After all the talk of edge and intensity and whatever other household phrases were spawned by Epstein’s postmortem presser in October 2018, there’s really nothing left to say. The Cubs have gone from looking for straws to stir the drink to grasping for them.
“We just hope the intensity of a pennant race and the desire of this group to rewrite the script from what happened last year and win the division will carry the day and that our talent will carry the day,” Epstein admitted.
Jed Hoyer said all the way back in late July that “hope is not a plan” and Epstein agrees. But with the lone trade deadline now behind them and no real expectations for what either Ben Zobrist — who’s beginning a rehab assignment at low-A South Bend this weekend — or Brandon Morrow can bring, the Cubs have to get better production from the players on the roster.
“Our hopes and expectations mean nothing at this point. It’s all about how you play.”