The Cubs Are Getting Destroyed By Balls in Play, Which is Only Partly Their Fault and Other Bullets

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The Cubs Are Getting Destroyed By Balls in Play, Which is Only Partly Their Fault and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The big news around these parts yesterday is that we’re now married up with Obvious Shirts, which is one of my favorite companies out there. I’m already having fun deploying the obvious style on Twitter (this tweet was me):

So, anyway, follow Obvious Shirts on Twitter there, and make sure you take advantage of the big sale this week: 20% if you use the code BLEACHERNATION. It’s also always free shipping and free returns.

  • The Cubs have now lost five of their last six, and nine of their last fourteen. If you were wondering why you feel crummy about the state of things, that might have something to do with it.
  • The good news, such as it is, is that the offense has generally held up pretty well during this two-week rough stretch. The pitching, of course, has been the big issue. Since this slide began in Cincinnati on May 15, the Cubs’ 5.69 ERA is the second worst in the National League. (The starters – at 6.50 – have been a disproportionately large chunk of that, too! The relievers – 4.50 – have been middle of the pack.) If you’re looking for statistical hope, the Cubs’ 4.64 FIP is only the 6th worst in the NL, and their .361 BABIP against is absolutely lapping the field. Based on their batted ball data during this stretch (hard contact on the higher end, soft contact middle of the pack, groundball rate middle of the pack), you would expect the BABIP to be elevated, but not where it actually has been. Again, and I’ve mentioned this many times before: either the Cubs are getting grossly unlucky on balls in play finding holes, their defensive positioning leaves a lot to be desired, or their defenders’ range is really down right now. In reality, it’s probably a combination of all three. The good news is that at least two of those three can and should turn around a bit in the coming months.
  • HOWEVA, a big part of why the BABIP is killing the Cubs so much during this stretch? They aren’t striking anyone out! Just a 19.1% strikeout rate, second worst in the NL. So that means, when you’re allowing way more balls in play than the average team, and way more of your balls in play are falling in for hits than should be, you’re going to get crushed even if you aren’t walking a ton or giving up a ton of homers. Short version here? Miss more bats, shift better, get better luck. Simple!
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
  • The Cubs did not win yesterday, but this is still extremely awesome:

  • He can thank Joe Maddon for the tip, right:

  • In all seriousness, I reckon Doolittle was looking to make a change because his performance has been a good bit down this year. The 32-year-old lefty was all-universe last year with the Nationals, but he’s posted a 3.52 ERA/3.42 FIP this year in a Nats bullpen that has been atrocious. That said … I’d still love to see the Cubs trade for him.
  • To be sure, this was in a joking tone, but it’ll probably elicit a chuckle or two from Cubs fans:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.