The now sub-.500 Cubs enter the All Star break limping with battle wounds after ending their first half with an embarrassing 14-3 loss vs. the Pirates. The Cubs enter the break 5.5 games behind first place Milwaukee and tied with St. Louis for second in what was an extremely disappointing half. The 14-3 loss saw a 10-run first by the Pirates which saw Jon Lester’s shortest outing of his career at 2/3rds of an inning which blew his ERA up from 3.88 to 4.25 and two errors by Bryant and Contreras were included. It is bad to note that the Cubs have now given up 80 first inning runs already this season.
The last week of the season did not help their struggling cause much as they lost their final series against the Pirates 2/3, split a two game set with the Rays and lost 11-2 to the Brewers in a makeup game. It was an ugly sight and turned a potential 2.5 game deficit into a 5.5 one with Milwaukee playing surprisingly winning baseball. The Cubs offense was once again on and off but the starting pitching really has not been good. The only starter who has made 10 starts or more with a sub-4 ERA is Eddie Butler at 3.88 who pitched well enough to aid to a 6-1 win vs. the Pirates at Wrigley in the series opener. The errors do not help either, 59 errors contributes to making these pitchers work harder even if it doesn’t hurt their ERA, pitchers are not going deep into ballgames.
*Cubs starter ERAs: Lester 4.25 / Arrieta 4.35 / Hendricks 4.09 / Buter 3.88 / Montgomery 3.75 (note not all from starts) / Lackey 5.20
This week also saw the All Star voting end and the teams set. Wade Davis is the only Cubs all star this year after having seven last season, Davis has a 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and is 16/16 saves. Kris Bryant was in the final vote round but lost to Dodgers’ Justin Turner. Joe Maddon will obviously manage the team from last year’s WS appearance but no one else. It is a good time for players like Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Contreras, Heyward, Zobrist, Lester and so on can rest up with no added stress.
The second half is going to be much more stressful than last year when they ran away with the central, they will have to battle hard. They will open against the Orioles who are struggling hard right now. It is interesting to note that the Cubs still are first in odds to win the division within the 60 percentile over everyone else in the central. But the Cubs will have to play more consistent and their fate will likely be set by the deadline.