What have the Cubs failed to do this postseason?
A. Score runs
B. Score runs
C. Except for Game Five of the NLDS…..score runs
D. All of the Above
If you guessed D, ding ding, you’re our big winner.
Now that I’ve had my fun, I think you get the point. The Cubs really need more offensive production if they expect to make it to the World Series.
The Cubs only managed to score two runs in last night’s 5-2 loss to the Dodgers and have scored more than three runs just one time this postseason. While the Cubs have made it to the NLCS for the third consecutive year, unlike the last few years, there hasn’t been one bat that has carried them.
Every Cubs hitter has had some struggles so far. While there have been a few big hits, there have also been a fair share of missed opportunities. The Cubs lineup can struggle, but if both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are included in that, it’s bad news for the Cubs.
There is no secret to the Cubs’ success. When Bryant and Rizzo are hitting and getting on base, the Cubs win. When they don’t, they usually lose. Fortunately, they were able to advance despite the slow start for their two stars.
Through six postseason games, Bryant is hitting just .208 with no home runs and two RBI. Rizzo is hitting .174 with a home run and six RBI. What may be even more surprising is that the normally patient duo have only walked three times so far.
It may be unfair to ask these two to constantly pick up the slack for the rest of the lineup, but there lies the key for the Cubs’ success. When 17 and 44 are locked in, it does two things: First, it gives the Cubs two MVP-caliber players who can carry the club, and second, it also takes pressure off of the other six guys in the lineup which allows them to raise their game as well.
Yes, the Cubs have run into some great starting pitching this postseason, but like the Dodgers showed in Game One, can they win when their “ace” doesn’t have it?
Game Two tonight isn’t a must win by any means, but something that would behoove the Cubs before heading back to Chicago for Game Three would be to raise the quality of their at-bats. Quality at-bats translates to higher pitch counts for the opposing pitcher. Higher pitch counts lead to earlier pitching changes and gets into the bullpen earlier than Dave Roberts would like.
The adjustment must begin with Bryant and Rizzo, because as the two most important pieces of that lineup, they set the tone. If the Cubs’ hitters can find some rhythm at the plate in Game Two, it could mean good things could follow when the series turns to Chicago. If not, that offseason fishing trip may be right around the corner.
Lead photo courtesy Geoff Burke—USA Today Sports