Going Streaking: A Brief Look at the Cubs’ Losing Jags and How They’ve Responded

Of the 65 losses the Cubs suffered in 2015, only 23 came one at a time. Okay, they all came one at a time, but only roughly one-third of those shortcomings were isolated incidents in the game log. It’s been a topic of conversation all season, but I think Joe Maddon’s greatest influence on this team has been in keeping them from looking too far ahead or behind. Playing every moment and just trying to put together one-game winning streaks. Maddon himself said as much after the Cubs fell behind 0-2 in the NLCS on Sunday.

“We’re all about one-game winning streaks, very seriously. I really preach daily the one-day-at-a-time approach,” the Cubs skipper explained. “I know it’s Psychobabble 101, but it actually works. So all I’m concerned about is the next game.”

That’s going to be imperative as the Cubs look to — need to — hold serve as Wrigley hosts (fingers crossed) the next 3 games of the series. It’s neither impossible no improbable to imagine the home team rattling off a couple wins at home; that’s what this team has done all season. In fact, they’ve followed 8 of 15 streaks of at least two losses with at least two wins. In six of those instances, the Cubs ran off at least 3 wins. More good news: only 5 of the 15 losing jags have come since the All-Star break.

Let’s take a quick look at a breakdown of the streaks:

  • On 7 occasions, the Cubs lost 2 consecutive games, but their 2 losses in New York represent the first such streak in the 2nd half of the season.
  • The Cubs have lost 3 straight games five times, four of which have been in the 2nd half.
  • Only three times have the Cubs suffered enough losses in a row to cost a 7-game series; they’ve twice dropped 4 in a row and once dropped 5.
  • Of the 8 times they’ve followed losing streaks with winning streaks, the Cubs have won 2 and 4 games twice each and have also run of 3, 5, 6, and 8 wins.

As we’ve already seen from this series, though, past performance is not necessarily predictive. The Cubs went 7-0 against the Mets in the regular season, including one each of the 3- and 4-game winning streaks mentioned above, but these are not the same teams we saw in May. Or even July. I thought it was asinine to use the Cubs’ success against the Mets as any sort of barometer for this series, but I don’t feel the same about using the Cubs’ overall performance to see what they’re capable of here.

This team isn’t one that can rely on the home run for 75% of its offensive production (which has basically been the case thus far in the postseason), but it’s not one that should be completely stifled on a routine basis either. If the regular season taught us anything, it’s that the Cubs are a group that can be maddeningly inconsistent at times. But therein lies the hope that they’ll also get blisteringly — and blissfully — hot out of nowhere.

So will the Cubs find a way to turn it on and show us all how they got here? I have no clue. But they can. They have. And as we head into a pivotal Game 3 at Wrigley with what appears to be a distinct pitching disadvantage, it’s that hope we must cling to. Or perhaps you’d prefer to revel in it. Either way, this team is quite capable of turning things around and it won’t be a surprise to me if they don’t. It’ll take a big effort from Kyle Hendricks and the re-emergence of Anthony Rizzo, but neither of those is a foreign concept.

Maybe I’m just channeling Chip Diller from Animal House, but I do believe there’s reason to be hopeful here. So order up another beer and ready the W flag. I think it’s time to go streaking.

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