The Cubs are winners of two straight, the most recent of which came as the result of a combined no-hitter in Los Angeles, yet they find themselves facing inexplicably longer playoff odds than they’d had prior to the historic W. That’s because the Brewers remain tied with them atop the division by virtue of their own two-game winning streak and are projected to win three more games than the Cubs over the remainder of the season.
The projection is a little curious considering the Cubs’ schedule lightens significantly after this month, not to mention they appear to be coming out of the June swoon that saw them boasting the worst offense in baseball for a time. If they managed to hang with the Brewers through the toughest portion of their schedule, how would anything but another period of somnambulance prevent them from regaining sole possession of the division lead?
The obvious answer is that the North Siders could be derailed by a starting rotation that was already disappointing before injuries and struggles from key performers. Jed Hoyer will be targeting help for that unit at or before the trade deadline, but making a real splash in the market could be cost-prohibitive — for more than one reason — at this point.
“I think you just continue to assess your talent and how they’re going to help you out and how they’re going to be best suited to compete that day and win that day,” David Ross said Thursday. “Health is obviously playing a huge factor for us right now. But we do have to trust these guys and their talent. That’s why they’re on the team and in the big leagues is because they have a proven track record — especially guys who have had success.”
If the Cubs are truly concerned with the future, particularly that of the more immediate variety, living in the past with Arrieta and others isn’t going to be very helpful. Then again, we’ve seen the former Cy Young winner flash that old wickedness at times this year. Zach Davies proved Thursday night that it’s possible to bounce back from a poor performance, but he’d looked really good for over a month prior to his stinker against the Marlins.
The biggest factor here is the bats, without which even an elite rotation won’t stand much of a chance. If the Cubs are hitting like they did in May, they have a legitimate shot to beat anyone in any ballpark. With four straight wins against the Dodgers, they’ve guaranteed a season series win just like the one they captured from the Padres to prove they’re able to hang with the league’s elite teams. Doing it in the postseason, however, is another story.
Just getting to the playoffs still seems like a tall task at this point, though a little hot streak and further stumbles by the Brewers could turn the projections around in a hurry.
Ed. note: Because this one seems to have riled up the Facebook crowd, mainly due to the choice not to read past the headline, it seems as though further explanation is in order. Since this is a weekly feature that tracks the Cubs’ playoff odds, there’s a little assumed context in the headline. There’s also the notion that this isn’t the first article someone has read at CI, though our detractors will happily point out that we must be very small because they have never read us before. If all else fails, check out the embedded image for additional information about the headline and what it all means.