The Cubs are on the precipice of their third double-digit losing streak in the last calendar year, though even avoiding that ignominy with a win in their series finale with the Padres won’t really help. They’ve now moved way past the point of hope and have entered similar territory to last year, when fans were practically begging for trades just so they could feel something again.
With organizational apathy at an all-time high after watching Frank Schwindel pitch again for the third time this month and second time in four games, perhaps they should change the slogan to “It’s Indifferent here.” Or maybe they could bring back a classic with a twist: Everybody INdifferent. Except that the same sense of helpless resignation isn’t echoed by fans, at least not all of them.
I haven’t seen skids like this since my son was in preschool, nor have I seen Cubs fans as angry with team leadership from the owners on down. And while I don’t think it’s necessary to consider each loss an invitation for a referendum on the myriad poor decisions that led to this point, it’s completely understandable that people are upset with the way the Cubs have actively chosen to be bad.
The problem is that it’s the second time in a decade they’ve taken that tack, so they no longer have the benefit of being fun-bad. Which is to say it’s no longer possible for everyone to sort of be in on the joke together. The fans, at least those who are active on the hellscape of social media — where the Cubs have one of the largest followings in MLB — seem to have divided themselves into two distinct camps.
One is marching on club offices with torches while the other is trying to put out the flames with the water they’re carrying for ownership. It would almost be funny if it weren’t all so frustrating. For whatever reason, it has been very difficult for a lot of folks to grasp that the Cubs could have traded away those core players and spent bigger in free agency. Or that the issue post-2016 wasn’t that they spent too little on payroll, but that they spent in the wrong way.
The core that has been so maligned wasn’t necessarily the issue, it’s that the front office failed time and again to surround its stars with role players who balanced the roster. Now you’ve got a president of baseball operations looking like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House as he insists repeatedly to remain calm because all is well and this isn’t a rebuild. Smoke is good for cigars and barbeque, but people get a little grumpy when it’s being blown up their backsides on a daily basis.
Even though Wednesday’s loss to the Padres was no more or less significant than any other this season, it sure felt bigger in some way. I watched the whole thing because I’m a glutton for punishment and because it’s sort of a requisite for operating this site, but even I can’t continue to tax my mental health by consuming a product not meant to entertain.
Unless, that is, there’s a way to somehow find entertainment in the pain. Whether you find any of this legitimately funny or you’re just laughing to keep from screaming, here are nine facts and figures from the nine-game losing streak that may very well melt what’s left of your brain.
- The Cubs have been outscored 84-26, which means they’ve lost by an average of 6.4 runs/game.
- Wednesday’s 18-5 loss marks the third time the Cubs have allowed at least that many in a game. The last team to surrender that many runs that many times was the Rangers in 2008. Two of those have come in the last four games and it’s still just mid-June.
- The Padres had 12 extra-base hits Wednesday, the most in MLB in a game this season.
- The Cubs are 59-103 over their last 162, equivalent to the worst seasons in franchise history (1962 and ’66). Even at their low point in 2012, they were 61-101. For a little additional reference, the Cubs had a 44-46 record when they traded Joc Pederson last year; the Cardinals had the same record and the Braves were at 45-46.
- Caleb Killian was the starting pitcher in the first and most recent games of the losing streak, so I guess the future is canceled.
- When the streak started, Cubs relievers had a 3.91 ERA and 1.8 fWAR. Now they have a 4.95 ERA and 1.0 fWAR.
- Schwindel has pitched twice in the last four days, while closer David Robertson has not pitched at all. During the skid, Robertson’s 0.3 fWAR is the highest in the bullpen; Scott Effross and Brandon Hughes (both 0.1) are the only others with positive value.
- Cubs batters have hit 8 homers in the last nine games, Cubs pitchers have allowed 21 homers in that time. Frank Schwindel has allowed 2 and hit none, Matt Swarmer gave up 6 dingers to the Yankees.
- The Cubs have moved to within 1.5 games of a bottom 3 overall record, which would give them the best odds at the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
I guess that was actually more than nine with some of the extra contextual tidbits, but I love to underpromise and overdeliver. Now imagine if Cubs leadership didn’t prefer the exact opposite strategy.