How the Cubs — through 60 games — hold up to playoff teams past
The Cubs drew nine walks in their 5-3 loss Friday. The Cubs’ disciplined plate approach allowed them to see a whopping 183 pitches. That’s far too many to score only three measly runs.
But such is life for an offense that produced one hit in 11 chances with runners in scoring position. Jason Heyward, who had that lonely hit in the first inning, threw his bat in disgust after striking out with the bases loaded to end the game.
“I wish I had come through right there,” he said.
Maybe if he had, it wouldn’t have been so odd to hear manager Joe Maddon speaking of the team improving its record in “five-game increments” from here on out. Maddon mentioned going five games over .500 . . . and 10 games . . . and even 15 games. Yes, he said all that.
But the Cubs are 30-30. Where we come from, that’s zero games over .500. In nearly all ways, this has been a mediocre team.
Here’s one way to look at it. A total of 18 Cubs teams have reached the postseason. Their average number of wins through 60 games: 36.2. And how many of those teams had records worse than 30-30? Only one.
The 2007 Cubs — Lou Piniella’s first of two consecutive division winners — were an ugly 27-33 at this point. They weren’t exactly sitting pretty 102 games later when they finished 85-77. Coincidentally, the 2006 National League Central champion Cardinals won only 83 games (not to mention the World Series). Yet it should surprise no one that no Central champ since the ’07 Cubs has failed to reach at least 90 victories.
But back to the main point: If this year’s Cubs are going to reach the playoffs, they’re not just going to have to outperform the unimposing teams in their really bad division, they’re also going to have to go from 30-30 to . . . where, exactly?
Even if Maddon is correct about the whole 15-games-over-.500 thing, that won’t get the Cubs to 90 wins. Maybe they ought to add another five-game increment to the equation just to be on the safe side.
In the meantime, there has been nothing special about this team. Even the 1906 Cubs, who were 41-19, would have to agree with that. You know who else would? The old gang that started 42-18 way back in 2016. Any chance you remember them?
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.
Cubs postseason teams through 60 games