Well, the Cubs are back on the downswing after a really exciting May that saw them shoot up to first place with a 19-win month. The offensive struggles of April came back with a vengeance in June, as the bats were even colder than they were to start the year.
The schedule was certainly not much of a help for Chicago, either. The Cubs played seven series against teams with a winning record in the month of June. The grind ended with a seven-game road swing through the Dodgers and the Brewers, the Cubs’ second West Coast trip of the month.
Meanwhile, the Brewers took advantage of a very weak schedule to catapult themselves six games ahead of the Cubs in the race. Once again, Chicago is at the edge of a tough decision as to whether it’s time to trigger the rebuild that’s been threatened for the last several seasons.
The month of July will be decision time for Jed Hoyer and crew as they determine the Cubs’ fate. Before we get to those momentous buy/sell decisions, though, let’s look back at the disappointing month of June.
The Cubs finished June with a 12-16 record and a -34 run differential, but the month actually started out quite well with Chicago going 8-4 and moving a season-high 11 games above the .500 mark. Then came a brutal 4-12 slog through a series of excellent pitchers in New York, LA, and Milwaukee, lowering their overall record to 42-39 exactly halfway through the season.
The hitters really struggled with a .188 batting average in June, the worst in baseball. Injuries to players like Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy certainly didn’t help the offense’s issues, while slumping performances from core players also led to the ugly numbers.
The back end of the starting rotation continued to be a source of trouble as well. Continued short outings put more and more pressure on an already overused bullpen and cracks began to emerge, especially during the Milwaukee series. The Cubs’ 4.58 team ERA was good for just 17th best in the league.
Who Was Hot?
Not many players were even close to being considered hot at the plate in June. Patrick Wisdom, called up after a series of injuries at the end of May, was the only player to really have any positive impact at the plate. Wisdom hit eight home runs with a .950 OPS and won player of the week honors June 7.
Kyle Hendricks was 5-0 with a 2.97 ERA in 36.1 June innings and has lowered his number to 3.98 on the season. Zach Davies also had a bounceback to start the summer with a 3.82 ERA. Closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Andrew Chafin both had completely clean months, not allowing a single run in 18 combined frames.
Who Was Cold?
After being the best performer the first two months of the year, Kris Bryant fell off a cliff in June. The former MVP hit just .114 and put up a really putrid .445 OPS. Ian Happ was not much better with a .497 OPS and a very similar .132 batting average. Those two definitely took many other deserving players off the hook in a brutal hitting month.
Jake Arrieta got absolutely bombed in the month of June to the tune of an 8.31 ERA. It’s hard to believe that his time with the Cubs will last much longer. Tommy Nance saw his once-promising numbers go up in smoke with 12 runs allowed in 14.1 innings.
Kyle Hendricks dominated on the mound and Pederson homered again as the Cubs romped 7-2 in the second game. Zach Davies finished the sweep with nearly seven innings of shutout baseball as Chicago took home the 2-0 victory.
Game of the Month
The Cubs no-hit the Dodgers on June 24 at Chavez Ravine. Davies, Ryan Tepera, Chafin, and Kimbrel combined for the no-no, the first with multiple pitchers in team history, as Contreras and Javy Báez each provided a home run in the 4-0 win. Chicago now has thrown the last two no-hitters pitched against the Dodgers at their home stadium.
Three months down, three to go.