CHICAGO – Two weeks ago, the Cubs said goodbye to a core, and hello to mediocrity.
In truth, that had actually taken place in late June and early July when an 11-game losing streak sunk the Cubs down the standings in the National League Central. That precipitated the team’s sizable selloff at the deadline which included core players Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo.
Since that moment on July 30, the Cubs have stumbled to a 2-11 record and have slipped to 13 games under .500 as a host of young players have been elevated to starting roles on the club. But this past homestand is when the current state of the franchise really sunk in for fans.
The team lost all three games to the White Sox, dropping the last two contests by a combined score of 13-3. That was only a warm-up for what the NL Central-leading Brewers would do to do to them in a four-game set that started Tuesday after a Monday postponement.
Milwaukee outscored the Cubs 37-9 to pull off a sweep of the Cubs, with the last two games being particularly ugly. On Wednesday, now former pitcher Jake Arrieta surrendered eight earned runs in four innings in a 10-0 defeat, and Kyle Hendricks wasn’t much better.
In easily his worst start of the year, the Cubs’ top starter surrendered nine runs on 11 hits in his four innings as the Brewers ran away with a 17-4 victory.
With that loss, the 2021 Cubs became the first team to finish a homestand of at least seven games without a win since 1943. Hard to believe this group was tied for first with Milwaukee as late as June 24th, but rebuilding life has come at the Cubs quickly as the summer continues on.
That’s especially true for David Ross, who rarely hasn’t been competing for a playoff spot during the second half of his playing career and in 2020 as a manager. He insists the team’s recent play isn’t sitting well with the group, even if a big reason was the trade deadline that decimated the roster.
“This is a competitive group. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been on winning teams or losing teams. Every baseman man that I know, player, coach, manager, front office, bat boy, they’re competitive,” said Ross. “Losing should never settle or feel good or be OK with anybody. I think my mindset is we’ve got to get better.”
A chance to do so comes in the middle of August, where three of the next four series for the club come against teams with a losing record. That includes this weekend’s three-game series against the Marlins in Miami, who are in last place in the NL East with a 48-67 record.