MILWAUKEE — Things can’t get much worse for the Cubs’ offense right now and sooner or later, things are going to have to improve, even with 150 games left this season.
Following a much-needed win that was capped off by Willson Contreras’ game-winning home run Tuesday, the Cubs’ offense had another lackluster showing against the Brewers, ending a rough, six-game road trip with a 7-0 loss to the Brewers.
The offense has looked lost at times this season and with just four hits in Wednesday’s series finale, there haven’t been many signs of life.
“It’s something we have to get better at,” president Jed Hoyer said. “We have to have better at-bats, we have to keep going. Obviously, we are going to swing the bats better than we have. I think that sort of goes without saying but at the same time, there are certainly some things that we’ve struggled with that are carryovers from not just last year, but the previous years.”
Through 12 games this season, the Cubs are hitting .162 as a team with 59 hits, which ranks 29th in MLB and a National League-leading 29.4% strikeout rate. Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes didn’t have much problem going through the Cubs’ lineup, striking out 10 in six innings.
The Cubs now have had five or fewer hits in eight of their 12 games this season and scored more than four runs in a game twice. They’re averaging an MLB-worst 2.7 runs per game. Even with a veteran group of hitters, it’s hard not to notice who might be pressing in hopes of getting the team out of its current rut.
“I thought I saw that in Pittsburgh more than I did here, to be honest with you,” manager David Ross said. “I just think this was some good pitching [in Milwaukee]. When we faced Pittsburgh, I thought we were trying a little harder than we were here. I thought the quality of the at-bat was a little better here.
“I still think we’ve got some work to do. We got to put the ball in play a little more. Take our singles when they give it to us. We can’t live and die by the home run.”
The Cubs needed to get off to a fast start for many reasons, and the offensive woes have been a big reason why that hasn’t happened. They had an opportunity to take advantage of the rebuilding Pirates and an injured Brewers team, but after stumbling out of the gate during this 12-game stretch, the road doesn’t get any easier.
Three of the best teams in the NL (Braves, Mets and World Series champion Dodgers) await the Cubs over the next two weeks after their off day on Thursday. By the first week in May, the “small” sample size will be large enough to know what this team is made of.
“I think it’s just a tough stretch that we’ve been on,” said Jake Arrieta, who allowed three runs in five innings. “We’re gonna have periods of struggles like this throughout the season. We’ll have ups and downs. We’ll also have periods where we go 9-1, 8-2 and things tend to balance themselves out over the course of a six-month season.
“There has been some frustration, but it’s not going to do us any good to dwell on it too long and take it for more than what it is. I think it’s just a period of 10 games or so where we haven’t found a way to get things going the way we would like.”