You’ve witnessed enough already, so I’m going to avoid belaboring the point any more than necessary here. The Cubs have been inconsistent this season, to say the least, but the degree to which the pendulum has swung is pretty shocking. That’s because, unlike the predictable arc of a fine timepiece, they have bounced maddeningly between double digits and complete futility.
The short series in Cleveland produced more of the latter, with the Cubs going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday after going 1-for-12 in the first game. That .074 average is just slightly more than one-third of their .215 season mark with RISP, meaning they should have had three or four more hits over the two games. Even two more hits could have pushed the broom in the other direction.
When it comes to their overall performance with RISP, the Cubs’ 85 wRC+ ranks 26th in baseball, as does that .215 average. Their .681 OPS is only slightly stronger at 24th. They’ve struck out 92 times in these situations, the fifth most in baseball, but that’s right in line with their overall mark.
Compounding all of these issues is a 47.9% groundball rate with RISP that is second-highest in MLB (Nats, 52,8%), leading to nine double plays. Nothing like a twin killing to stop a rally cold.
Despite all of these issues, the Cubs are 14th in MLB with 160 runs scored on the season. Not bad, right? It’s really not, until you look at the frightening disparity in their scoring. Of those 160 runs, 56 (35%) came in four games (14 per game) and the other 104 (65%) came in the remaining 32 games. They’ve scored in double-digits four times, but have been shut out five times and scored just one run twice.
There’s no such thing as saving runs for later, though it’s maddening to see an offense that can easily hang crooked numbers on a regular basis reduced to a single tally by repeated failures to drive in what should be easy runs. While some of this is circumstantial and will even out over the season, the general issue has been present for the last few years.
I don’t have a solution outside of hoping Kris Bryant has no ill effects from getting hit on the wrist in Wednesday’s loss. Anthony Rizzo getting hot would help, as would Ian Happ bouncing back and Joc Pederson hitting like he did in spring training. That’s not too much to ask, is it?