Survey says: Yes. They’ve already lost 8 of 9, and show no signs of stopping the skid anytime soon. There’s now a very real chance that the Cubs will not win the Central Division, and may even miss out on the postseason if the Phillies, Brewers, or Cardinals snag the National League Wildcard spot.
Here’s why the Cubs are skidding:
1. Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs’ MVP from April and May, is good for little more than a late inning replacement at this point in the season. The longer MLB season and travel have taken their toll on the Japanese All-Star.
2. The Cubs’ returning aces, Zambrano and Harden, will not provide the shot in the arm that the Cubs need to win. The back of the Cubs rotation has performed above average during their absence–Marquis and Marshall have never looked so sharp in their recent losses and no-decisions. Starting pitching is not the problem, and it’s not the answer.
3. The Cubs’ long-man from the beginning of the season, Leiber, is now done for the year. Chad Gaudin, the Cubs’ bullpen pick-up at midseason, is on the injured list now and is questionable. When Marshall returns to the bullpen, things could pick up…but don’t count on it.
4. The Cubs need to stop hitting into doubleplays. Derrek “Doubleplay” Lee has 25 on the season, while Ryan Theriot has 16 (good for 2nd and 14th in the NL, respectively). If you say that they have that many doubleplays due to the baserunners in front of them, then they should also have quite a few RBIs too, right? Wrong: Neither player leads the team in RBIs, and they’re not even in the top 20 in the National League. Even Soriano is getting in on the doubleplay action over the past few week–and he’s not even a groundball hitter.
5. The Cubs’ best two hitters for average are pitchers: Carlos Zambrano and Sean Marshall. I don’t even know what this proves…probably nothing, but it’s still interesting to note.
So, can the Cubs really pull the biggest implosion in sports history by losing every single remaining game and missing the postseason? I’d like them to prove me wrong, but they’re the Cubs. The lovable losers. I wouldn’t expect anything else.