As slow start continues, Cubs know they can’t ride the roller coaster
It might take some time for the general public to get reacclimated to a full, 162-game season but the Cubs know they can’t overreact to a slow start.
After Friday’s loss, their record now sits at 5-8 on the 2021 season and the offense continues to struggle to cash in on opportunities.
The lineup put 16 runners on base Friday against the Braves pitching staff (6 hits, 6 walks, 4 hit by pitches) but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Willson Contreras’ homer and Eric Sogard’s sacrifice fly accounted for both runs on the afternoon.
“It’s been a grind,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s been not fun to watch. Hitting’s contagious up there. We’re grinding as a unit and we’re in it as a unit. … We just gotta keep swinging and somehow relax a little bit and just keep playing baseball. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The Cubs are well aware of all the offensive statistics you could throw at them and where this lineup sits in baseball history for the first 13 games of a season. They see the batting averages on the scoreboard.
They also keep stressing the importance of viewing the season in a big picture and not in a small sample size.
As he watches his first season as the Cubs president of baseball operations, Jed Hoyer is trying to take the slow start with a grain of salt but he also isn’t running from his team’s offensive issues.
“It’s a long season, but I think we saw our team struggle at the end of last year offensively,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “We’ve seen some struggles going back a few years. You can’t just wipe everything away as a small sample. Trying to balance that I think is really important.
“…There’s adjustments that can be made. Some of these are slumps and some of these are probably mechanical adjustments that we need to make. That’s my focus on a day-to-day basis — who’s struggling and what can we do to get them better and try to be productive with these struggles as much as we possibly can.
“We’re not blind to it. We don’t want to overreact. We also don’t want to ignore them and just feel like time will take care of everything.”
Rizzo believes the only way through is to just keep pushing forward and stay in the same approach — even if the results aren’t quite there yet.
“The sample is two weeks,” he said. “I’m sure we could go through two weeks every year for the last few years and have really bad offensive numbers collectively.
“When it happens in the beginning of the season, it’s actually the worst because it’s so magnified but you just gotta keep playing. Good thing it’s 162 not 60 this year for us.”
As the lineup has battled to plate runs the first couple weeks of the season, the Cubs players have stressed the need to relax more at the plate.
They know they can’t get into the mindset of getting 5 hits in 1 at-bat and instead need to let the game come to them and take what they can get.
Rizzo started his Cubs career on teams that finished in fifth place three straight seasons from 2012-14. He’s also obviously seen a lot of winning with this franchise and understands the clubhouse can’t get down or lose hope after only two weeks.
“No one feels bad for us,” Rizzo said. “We gotta pick ourselves up and keep the right attitude and continue to play. We all know what we’re capable of. It’s a contagious thing — 1-2 at-bats, 1 pitch can turn it around for all of us.”