CHICAGO – There was a time when the two teams on the field met to decide who was the best in the National League.

One of those series was in 2016 and the other was in 2017, as the Cubs and the Dodgers were two of the best in Major League Baseball, The pennant went to Chicago in that first meeting with the second going to Los Angeles, but things since then have taken a turn.

As the Dodgers continue to be one of the best teams in baseball, the Cubs have slipped well off the pace over the last years, and now are slipping towards the bottom of the National League in the early days of May.

Frankly, the Dodgers continued on their path to continuing to retool their team and keep it among the league’s elite and broke through for a title in 2020. The Cubs, meanwhile, watched their core slump, traded them away, and now appear headed towards another long season on the north side.

Three games at the “Friendly Confines” this week proved just how far the gap has grown since their last NLCS meeting in 2017.

Los Angeles only added to a miserable home week for the Cubs that wasn’t just due to some chilly weather at Wrigley Field. After getting swept by the White Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Dodgers beat the Cubs in three decisive content where they showed the distance of the gap between them.

Saturday featured a pair of blowouts by the visitors in a doubleheader: 7-0 in Game 1 and then 6-2 in Game 2. The Dodgers then finished it off with a 7-1 victory to close out a sweep in which they outscored their National League counterpart 20-3.

This is the toughest part of what’s been a terrible stretch since the Cubs beat the Rays to improve to 6-4 on April 18th at Wrigley Field. Since that day, they’re 3-14 as a number of different parts of their team have failed to materialize.

Starting pitching continues to be an issue with all four of the five current starters sporting an ERA over five, with Drew Smyly being the only exception (3.04 ERA in five starts). The Cubs’ hitters have gone quiet a number of times during this 17-game stretch as they’ve had 11 games with two or less runs, winning just one of those contests.

Now at 9-18, the Cubs are now nine games back of first place Milwaukee in the National League Central, and already in a major hole just a month into the 2022 season.