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The Cubs’ approach to tackle their offensive woes of late

1 month agoAndy Martinez

Sunday afternoon’s offensive performance wasn’t a definitive statement of who the Cubs are overall offensively.

But it is a sample of who they’ve been lately.

The team mustered just 2 hits and was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, dropping the series finale to the Pirates 3-2. Pittsburgh took 3 of 4 from the Cubs in the weekend series.

“It was a quiet day,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Just not a lot of pressure today, for sure. They put a lot of pressure on us and we got out of a lot of innings, frankly.”

Since the calendar turned to May, the Cubs’ offense ranks in the bottom third in runs (22nd with 63) and OPS (21st, .671). With runners in scoring position, the Cubs rank 29th in OPS (.544), 23rd in runs (43) and last in batting average (.178).

Part of the issues stem from health — Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki were out for the first portion of the month. Some of it is ineffectiveness from key contributors — Ian Happ (.584 OPS) and Mike Tauchman (.604 OPS) have struggled this month.

The rest can be attributed to facing some quality pitching.

In the last 19 days, the Cubs have faced Freddy Peralta (4.17 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Yu Darvish (2.43 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) and Dylan Cease (2.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), just to name a few. In the last week, it’s gotten even tougher, going up against Reynaldo López (1.34 ERA, 1.09 WHIP), Chris Sale (2.54 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) and Charlie Morton (3.52 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) in Atlanta.

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Against Pittsburgh they faced fireballers Jared Jones and Paul Skenes to open the series. Then they were just a tick off Bailey Falter in Saturday’s win. Sunday, Mitch Keller kept them at bay, tossing 6 quality innings for Pittsburgh.

“There has been a really tough stretch of pitchers,” Bellinger said. “It’s been not our greatest stretch, but a lot of baseball left. So got to put it behind us, off day tomorrow and come back ready to play against another good Atlanta team.”

The day off might be what the Cubs need, but it doesn’t get much easier for them.

Max Fried (3.81 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and Morton are lined up to pitch in the series for Atlanta.

The reprieve could come in the form of Dansby Swanson. The Cubs have alluded to Swanson potentially being activated off the IL on Tuesday.

That isn’t likely to be the offense-saving calvary, but his return lengthens the Cubs lineup. The Cubs’ 7 through 9 hitters, Nick Madrigal, Miles Mastrobuoni, Yan Gomes (Saturday) and Miguel Amaya (Sunday) were a combined 1-for-17 the last two days.

“Obviously, those two guys are tremendous baseball players that help us win,” Bellinger said. “They’re just winning ballplayers and it’ll be great once we get them back.”

Counsell isn’t panicking about the offensive woes. Despite that, the Cubs are 4 games over .500 and just 2 games back of Milwaukee in the NL Central.

“You’re at where you’re at in the standings; that’s kind of in the past,” Counsell said. “The future is what we got. We’re not a perfect team, there’s no perfect teams and we got to play well enough to win games. We didn’t play well enough today to win a game.”

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