With a little more than a month and 38 games to go in the 2022 MLB season, the Chicago Cubs have a tough task to accomplish if they want to get into the playoffs.
It is probably a little too late to even think about that and they should probably start aiming at preparing for the next season already.
The Cubs currently sit 3rd in the Central Division of the National League, 17 games behind the Saint Louis Cardinals and 11 games behind second-place Milwaukee Brewers.
With a record of 54 wins and 70 losses, compared to the 71 wins and 91 losses in the 2021 season, what went wrong this season?
Chicago Cubs Offensive Stats
The Chicago Cubs currently are only the 21 best team in runs scored this season with 515 runs scored, 86 less than the Cardinals and 40 less than the Brewers.
They have 1011 hits which makes them only the seventeenth-best team in hits.
The Cubs have scored 127 home runs this season, which is 22 less than the Cardinals and 44 less than the Brewers. They also don’t drive a lot of runs, being in the top 10 of the worst teams this season in the MLB in that category with only 486 RBI scored, compared to the 576 by the Cardinals and the 542 by the Brewers.
Another problem with the Cubs this season is that the team strikes out a lot, being in the top 10 in the league this season in that category with 1089 strikeouts. That category is led by the Angels with 1195 strikeouts.
The team is hitting a combined .241. Those stats show that offensively the Cubs have been a very average team.
Chicago Cubs Pitching Stats
This season the Chicago Cubs starting pitching rotation has been bad. They have combined for the 8th worst ERA average, with a 4.20 ERA.
The Cubs allowed 1054 hits and conceded 588 runs, both of those stats puts them in the top 10 of the worst teams in MLB this season in those categories.
The worst stat is that the Cubs just give up a lot of Home Runs. They are the third team with the most home runs conceded this season with 160 Home Runs.
Opponents are hitting .248 against the Chicago Cubs which is also in the top 10 of the worst averages for a pitching starting rotation.
Those stats also prove that the Cubs have also been very average team pitching-wise.
Should the Cubs have traded some players at the MLB trade deadline?
At the MLB trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs were one of the teams that were expected to trade some of their best players like Ian Happ or Willson Contreras.
Not trading Contreras was a shock to a lot of the Cubs fans, especially because Contreras becomes a free agent at the end of the 2022 season, and the Cubs could have gotten some prospects to help in their rebuild.
Your NL starting catcher. 🤩
Congratulations to Willson Contreras on being selected to his third All-Star team! pic.twitter.com/xKpgII0ACq
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 8, 2022
Teams like the Padres, the Mets and the Rays were among some of the teams that showed interest in trading for Contreras who is hitting .248 with 20 Home Runs and 52 RBI.
The deadline also ended with Ian Happ, who had teams like the Toronto Blue Jays interested, staying in Chicago, where the Cubs have full control of the player for one more season.
Instead of trading players like Happ or Contreras, the Cubs traded four relievers to contending teams. David Robertson ( Phillies ), Mychal Givens ( Mets ), Scott Effross ( Yankees ) and Chris Martin ( Dodgers ).
Last season the Cubs traded star players Javier Baez to the New York Mets, Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants and Anthony Rizzo to the New York Yankees.
What players have been good this season for the Cubs?
When talking about the best players for the Cubs this season we have to acknowledge of course Contreras all-star caliber season. Shortstop/Third Baseman Nico Hoerner has also had a good season hitting a combined .291 with 112 Hits, 41 RBI but only 7 Home Runs.
Ian Happ is hitting a combined .273 with 120 Hits, 56 RBI and 13 Home Runs. In his first season in the MLB Japanese star Seiya Suzuki is hitting a combined .247 with 74 Hits, 39 RBI and 10 Home Runs.
Meanwhile, in the pitching rotation, Keegan Thompson has been good with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses with a 3.97 ERA, making him one of the Chicago Cubs starters in the middle of this season.
Drew Smyly has also been good with a 3.47 ERA. Marcus Stroman after a tough start has been decent and currently holds an ERA of 3.83.
What can we expect from the Cubs next season? Like every rebuilding team, free agency is always the time of the year fans are happy about, especially because the Cubs want to be more competitive next season. What would be the key steps for them?
The Cubs are in need of some help in their bullpen, and the free agent bullpen market is always filled with talent.
During the development of their farm system, the Cubs usually like to have some funky arm slot pitchers, and there will be some in the market next year like Taylor Rogers, Brad Hand or Corey Knebel. Any of those choices would be great choices to close for the Chicago Cubs next season.
Veterans Doolittle, Steve Cishek, Anthony Bass are also some great options on the market for a team that likes to have some veteran relievers so they can trade them at the trade deadline if they are struggling.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 18, 2022
The Cubs really need some help. Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele are good starters, but they do need at least 1 more good hand such as Sean Manaea who is currently on the Padres or Tyler Anderson if he doesn’t sign back with the Dodgers where he is having a very good season. Some other big-name options are Carlos Rodon from the Giants, Noah Syndergaard who was traded at the deadline to the Phillies.
Another option is already at home, with prospect Caleb Kilian who already had a chance to show himself this season, emerging as a good option for the Cubs next season. At Triple-A in Iowa, Kilian pitched 85 Innings has a 3.80 ERA, and currently has a 5-2 record. In the MLB Kilian pitched 11 Innings so far this season.
Developing Pete Crow-Armstrong
Cubs’ number 1 prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong, the 20 year old outfielder, number 19th pick by the Mets in 2020 is having a very good season where he has even played in the MLB “ Futures Game “ in the Dodger Stadium during the MLB All-Star Weekend.
Pete Crow-Armstrong is batting a combined .311 with 115 Hits 15 Home Runs and 53 RBI.
Pete was acquired by the Cubs in the trade that sent Javier Baez to the New York Mets last year, and because of his exciting potential, he is one of the names that could help the Cubs in the future, maybe next season already?
Thank you to Pete Crow-Armstrong for representing us in the #FuturesGame!
PCA doubled and scored a run for the NL Futures team. pic.twitter.com/ugnCafWHlc
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2022
Extending Wilson Contreras
Extending Contreras should be one of the main focuses for the Cubs for the next season. Finding players that produce offensively especially as a catcher is not an easy task, and regardless of his position, Contreras has been one of the best hitters in MLB this season. Contreras emerged as an All-Star Starter and the Cubs have to sign him back if they want to be competitive in the future.
The Cubs are really in need of some options in the infield corners. Players like Trey Mancini who has a club option with the Astros or Josh Bell who will be a free agent at the end of the season would be great options for the Cubs.
Even though he leads the team in RBI, Patrick Wisdom has a big problem with his strikeout percentage. If the Cubs look to replace him with a better option, Nolan Arenado who has a player option to stay in Saint Louis could be the big-name free agent to sign.
Michael Brantley ( Astros ), Andrew Benintendi ( Yankees) , and Wil Myers ( Padres ) could be some good options for the Cubs for their Outfield even tough that’s a position where the Cubs are not in big need after signing Suzuki and Morel
The Cubs are just about what everyone would expect about them during this tough season of rebuilding. They are a team that one day could look really good, but on the other can look terrible. Being under the .500 winning percentage is something that surprises us a little bit especially when we are talking about a team that has a winning percentage of .435.
The Cubs were projected to go 73-89, and that would be a big win for them if they could achieve that score.
Next season for the Cubs will be interesting, with the main question in the air being, will Contreras sign back with the Cubs?
Featured image by Keith Allison: Flickr, e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, website, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons