In the natural arcs of any season, you see highs and lows, you see creamy middles, you see the moments that, even as they unfold before your eyes, strike you as seminal.
But this year? With this Cubs team? Absolutely nothing that happens in the extreme whipsaw of 2019 can tell you one damn thing about the reality of the club or what is coming next. The highs are far too high, the lows are far too low, and the space between them is virtually nonexistent.
So I can look at yesterday – just how awful it was – and I say that it has zero predictive power about how the Cubs will play today, or next week, or the rest of the way. The only thing we know is what has passed before, and what we know about that is that it’s all just crazy good and crazy bad. It makes for a very jarring six months of fandom.
As for yesterday, all the very bad:
- Javy Baez has a hairline fracture in his thumb, which is by far the worst news from yesterday. If he’s back at all this year, it would be at the very end of the regular season, or in a postseason that might not even happen.
- Baez’s replacement for the foreseeable future homered in the game, but also threw the ball away at a critical moment – his third throwing error in three games, raising even more concerns about the loss of Baez, who was the best defensive player in baseball in August.
- The Cubs lost a one-run, walk-off game in which they led twice.
- Losing tight games late makes me think about how the bullpen is missing both Craig Kimbrel and a fully-effective Pedro Strop, neither of whom may be impact relievers the rest of the way because of their health.
- The team to which the Cubs lost is chasing them in the standings, and is now just 3.0 games back of the Cubs.
- The Cardinals won, which pushed the Cubs to 3.5 games back in the NL Central. With only 21 games left, and even with seven head-to-head matchups remaining, that is a very sizable deficit.
- The Diamondbacks won yet again, shrinking the Cubs’ evaporating Wild Card lead to just 1.5 games.
- The Phillies won, bringing them – together with the Brewers – back to 3.0 games behind the Cubs.
Your one and only good bit from yesterday is that the Nationals lost, which kept the Cubs 2.0 games back of them for the top Wild Card spot. The NL Central is still the realistic target, but failing that, it sure would be nice to at least get the Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field.