Chicago Cubs: The bats must wake up before the postseason

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs’ offense has looked lost lately. They scored just 15 runs in their seven games last week.

The three parts of the Chicago Cubs – hitting, starting pitching, and the bullpen – have not all clicked at the same time this season.

At the start of the year, the starting pitching struggled considerably, but the bats carried the team through that extended rough patch. The Cubs’ offense scored the most runs of all National League teams in the first half of the season, propelling the club to the league’s best record.

While that scenario had been the story for most of the year, things have changed over the last six weeks.

Since August 1st, the Cubs have scored the eighth fewest runs of all MLB teams.

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Over that stretch, only four Cubs hitters with at least 60 plate appearances have an OPS above the league average mark of .728. Those players are Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, and Kyle Schwarber.

That means that over 50 percent of the team’s plate appearances have come by non-pitchers with an OPS below league average. It’s no wonder they cant’ score many runs when over half of their position players have been performing so poorly.

To make matters worse, Cubs hitters have struck out in 23.9 percent of their plate appearances since the start of August. That’s the fifth worst of all MLB teams.

Although the offense has been abysmal, the starting pitching has picked things up and been what fans thought they would be when the season began.

As a group, Cubs’ starters have posted a 3.20 ERA since August 1st – they’re even better when you look at peripheral statistics.

The Cubs’ starting rotation has the 4th best FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – a statistic on the same scale as ERA that only takes into account walks, strikeouts, home runs, and hit by pitches – outcomes that do not involve the defense) over that same stretch. They also have allowed hard contact just 27.7 percent of the time. That’s the third best rate of all MLB clubs.

Lead by deadline-acquisition Cole Hamels‘ 1.57 ERA during his time in Chicago, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana have returned to form. Since August 1st, they’ve posted a 3.02 and 3.28 ERA respectively.

Despite the offensive struggles, the Cubs have been able to go 26-17 since the start of August. This team hasn’t clicked, yet they’ve continually found ways to win ballgames.

While they’ve managed to keep winning and kept a hold on the division lead, the offense has to wake up before the postseason starts if they want to avoid a similar fate as last year.

Cubs’ fans certainly don’t need a reminder of the 2017 playoffs. The Cubs played 10 games and scored just 25 runs total, nine of which came in Game 5 of the NLDS.

The Cubs’ pitching has been good lately, but it’s not an overpowering group. They don’t have pitchers the caliber of Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco or Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

This team will not be able to win the World Series – let alone make it there – if the bats don’t come alive over the team’s 13 remaining games.

Luckily for the Cubs, their best player is finally healthy and getting back into the swing of things.

Kris Bryant returned from his month-long disabled list stint on September 1st and has shown some promising signs since returning to the lineup. Bryant’s batting .283/.370/.391 since coming back from his injury. His power hasn’t returned and he hasn’t hit a home run yet, but that should come with time.

Next. The Cubs should re-sign Cole Hamels. dark

If Bryant can perform at the level that Cubs’ fans are used to seeing, he could be the spark that this group needs as they make their final push to win the NL Central and enter the postseason on a hot streak.

With Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez leading the charge, this group is dangerous. The Cubs are 25 games over .500, and all parts of the team still haven’t clicked at the same time. If they do, look out.