Before the 2019 MLB season began, the Chicago Cubs were expected to make the playoffs once again. With a pitching staff that includes the likes of Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, and Jose Quintana, and a lineup that includes the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs looked poised to get at least a Wild Card spot.
As the 2019 MLB season wraps up this week, however, the Cubs are on the outside looking in: they have lost six straight games, which began with a loss to the Cincinnati Reds back on Tuesday, September 17, and they currently trail the Milwaukee Brewers by four games for the second National League Wild Card spot. Not looking good.
So what happened, exactly? A variety of things. For one, outside of the 9-8 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, the Cubs’ offense has struggled, failing to amass more than four runs since an 8-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, September 16.
Two, the pitching has continued to struggle, as the Cubs’ pitchers have give up three or more runs four times during the six-game losing streak. To make matters worse, closer Craig Kimbrel recently spent a short amount of time on the injured list, making late-game situations that much more difficult for the Cubs.
Three, probably the worst of them all? Kris Bryant sustained a freak injury on Sunday, September 22 against the Cardinals, as he slipped on a wet first base bag trying to beat out a double play. For a team that has been struggling recently to get consistent offensive production, this is an injury that really hurts. This year, Bryant is enjoying a successful season at the plate, hitting .282 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI’s to go along with that average.
While there is speculation Bryant may play again this season, Bryant did sprain his ankle, which would not be easy (or comfortable, for that matter) to play. In a sport like baseball that always requires you to move your feet, and especially at the hot corner where Kris Bryant can be found, it might be better for Bryant’s long-term health to sit out the remainder of the season, as painful as that might be for Cubs fans.
When asked about Bryant’s injury by the Chicago Sun-Times, Scott Boras, Bryant’s agent, had this to say: “What have they done since Harper? The answer is nothing. They’re focused on other factors, economic factors, all things relating to how they can administer the game, and yet the safety of players and resolution of this issue has gone without any attention.”
I see exactly what Boras is saying here. While plenty of fans still enjoy the game of baseball, it does not seem like enough is being done to take care of the players, and there is more of a focus on ways to make profit. In regards to the Bryant injury, for example, if a base had been replaced mid-game (or simply dried off with a towel), Bryant would still probably be playing baseball, and the Cubs would have a much better chance of making the postseason.
I do think we will see a huge shift in terms of protecting players in the 2020 MLB Season. And who knows, maybe that will start in the upcoming postseason.
But for now, the Cubs will have to be without their star third baseman, and they have a lot of work to do in order to make the postseason, which would be their fifth consecutive appearance.