We took a deep dive into the data, and you’ll never guess what we discovered:
Anthony Rizzo can’t hit anymore.
Look, it’s just a little gallows humor after a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS.
The teams are tied at one victory apiece and heading to Los Angeles, the Cubs’ home-field advantage out the window. Seemingly of greater concern, the strapping lefty in the No. 3 hole is now 1-for-23 in the postseason. Where we come from, that computes to a batting average of .043.
But you know what? It’s no big deal. That’s what the Cubs are telling us.
“Rizz is going to be fine,” Dexter Fowler said. “Dude can hit.”
Dude can hit a ton, though not so much, it seems, in the month of October. In the 2015 playoffs, Rizzo hit only .187 against the Cardinals and Mets. Can the Cubs really get to the World Series without a significant contribution from their three-time All-Star and MVP candidate?
“People just need to stay positive — this is Anthony Rizzo we’re talking about,” David Ross said. “I told him I’ve seen David Ortiz not do well in the playoffs, and the next thing you know he’s World Series MVP.”
In fairness to Rizzo and all the Cubs, bats tend to go quiet wherever Game 2 Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw roams. It was just one game, right? There could be as many as five more in which Rizzo can make his mark.
“You don’t need to be (going) good at all,” Rizzo said, “but if you come through in the big situation, that’s all that matters.”
Rizzo wasn’t outwardly discontented with himself after Sunday’s game, promising the whole team will be “fresh and ready to go” at Dodger Stadium, and that’s a very good sign. If there’s one thing the Cubs have going for them — well, aside from having more talent than everybody else — it’s their unrelenting positivity.
By the way, if you’re a fan who went from party mode after Game 1 to panic mode after Game 2, the Cubs have some encouraging words for you, too.
“Cubs fans, they deserve the best in the world because they’ve been so patient and so supportive,” Game 1 hero Miguel Montero said. “Believe me, we’re going to give it our best every single day (in Los Angeles) because we want good stuff for ourselves and for the whole city.”
The Cubs also welcome you to join them in chilling the heck out.
“Just relax and watch the show,” Fowler said.
They’d appreciate some positive vibes, too.
“We need the support,” Ross said. “We need all the energy the fans can give us. We need the love. We need them rooting us on through thick and thin, good or bad. There are lots of quality human beings on this team and some good guys to root for. Continue having our backs and supporting us. That’s all we can ask for.”
If there’s one player in the Cubs lineup who has built up capital with fans over the years, it’s Rizzo. He is, indeed, one big swing from putting his stamp on these playoffs, as he did manage to do, by the way, with two home runs in last year’s series against St. Louis.
But this is true, too — if Rizzo doesn’t hit at Dodger Stadium and the Cubs go down in this series, the pressure is going to get plenty serious.
“Rizzo? I’m pretty sure you don’t have to worry about that guy,” Javy Baez said. “He’s going to get going.”
That’s what they all say.
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.