Four aces. Great poker hand. An ace represents 1 in a standard deck of playing cards. In some games it can be the highest card, in some the lowest. Unfortunately the Cubs drew four aces this past weekend in Pittsburgh. And by that I mean they managed to score 1 run in 4 consecutive games. Obviously, this isn’t the hand that Joe Maddon wanted to play.
Now the good news is, the Cubs did manage to parlay those 4 runs into 2 wins, 1-0 both Thursday and Friday. The bad news is, 1 run isn’t going to win very many ballgames. This leads to the question: Should we be concerned about the Cubs inconsistent offense, which includes a LOT of strikeouts?
The Cubs currently rank 3rd in the National League in runs scored, which is pretty good. But is it deceiving? Without getting too hard core geek with statistics, it just feels like, as an observer, the Cubs have gone through patches like this weekend a few times this season. They also have had stretches where they seemed to score 6, 7, 8 runs a game. So what does it all mean?
The short answer is I don’t know. Obviously, we’d like to see more consistency. Every team goes through slumps, every player goes through slumps. It’s baseball. So I’m not pushing the panic button yet. It’s one thing if you just go out and get crushed. That happens too. But I really hate to waste good pitching performances, especially by the bullpen, and not be able to score. With all the hand-wringing and pearl clutching about the pitching lately, Jon Lester looked very good, Cole Hamels continues to look good since putting on the Cubs uniform, and Jose Quintana looked a lot better. Tyler Chatwood, on the other hand, I never want to see start another game for this team, but even in that game, Joe pulled the plug early and the bullpen kept the team afloat.
It’s reminiscent of the playoffs last year. The offense just couldn’t get it done. As much as we have all been pleasantly surprised by David Bote, this team needs a healthy Kris Bryant back in the lineup. Even if that means when he does return, moving him to the outfield and leaving Bote at 3rd for awhile. Look, as well as Bote has played, and as much as everyone fell in love with him after the pinch hit walk off grand slam, he’s still a guy who bounced around for 7 years in the minors. I’m afraid that sooner or later he’s going to turn back into a pumpkin.
I’m sure Crazy Joe’s solution to this will be to jumble the lineup. It’s his favorite thing to do, after all. And it may work, at least for awhile. Moving Anthony Rizzo to the lead off sport for awhile seemed to get him jump started. Now that isn’t going to work every time
My point to tall of this is don’t overreact to 1 series, but also keep your eye on things too. This team is supremely talented, too talented to score 4 runs in 4 games. Let’s hope this was just one of those things and not a continuing trend. The bottom line is it’s probably not going to matter until the playoffs. The Cubs would have to have a monumental collapse not to be in the post season, but all I am saying is, watch out. The Cardinals are coming.