It was a weird week for the Cubs, and it was mostly bad. They haven’t won a series since their sweep of the Cardinals earlier this month and currently find themselves four games back of the first-place Brewers.
Still, no-hitters don’t happen every day. They actually just happen around every two or three days in 2021’s version of Major League Baseball. Nevertheless, we saw the Cubs’ first no-hit effort since Alec Mills did it to the Brewers last year.
Other than that, though, the individual performances of late have left a lot to be desired and that has contributed to what has been in large part a disappointing week.
The number of no-hitters in Cubs history
In a week that hasn’t had all that much to smile about, it’s hard to imagine leading off with anything but Thursday’s combined no-hitter. Zach Davies, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, and Craig Kimbrel teamed up to stifle a Los Angeles Dodgers team that is built to hit and score in bunches.
This was the 17th no-hitter in team history and the first of the combined variety. It also came with a whopping eight walks. That’s, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most baserunners that have ever been allowed in a Cubs no-hitter, breaking the record previously held by in Sam Jones‘ 1955 effort.
Two-thirds of the bullpen’s three headed monster
While Tepera was roughed up in Monday’s loss in Milwaukee, his second consecutive bad outing, the other parts of the bullpen’s backend trio have continued to find great success. Over 13 innings in their last seven games, Kimbrel and Chafin have allowed no runs while striking out 15 and walking only three.
The extension candidates
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez have all been flat-out bad lately. Check out these slash lines over the last seven games coming into Monday’s contest in Milwaukee.
Uh, yuck. If you want to be a real glutton, you can throw in the .208/.269/.542 line from Willson Contreras as well. There’s some power mixed in there, but those are some putrid numbers and the Cubs simply don’t have the complimentary players to survive slumps from all of these guys at the same time.
Those numbers won’t do even with a health roster, but the Cubs badly need Nico Hoerner and Matty Duffy to return to action to diversify the lineup and add more competence to a group that simply needs as much of it as they can get.
Tommy Nance‘s Cinderella Story
After looking close to unhittable in the early part of his major league career, Nance has been a mess of late. In 5.2 innings pitched over his last four games, he has surrendered eight hits, a walk, and six runs.
Nance is one of many pitchers around the league whose spin rate decreased fairly dramatically after MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances. Am I making accusations? No, but for whatever reason, Nance’s stuff has degraded and he’s lost his recipe for success.
If Spider Tack isn’t going to fly, Nance and the Cubs could try taking a page out of Space Jam and using Michael Jordan’s secret stuff. At this point, they need whatever help they can get.