Cubs

5 depressing stats that highlight Cubs' postseason struggles

5 depressing stats that highlight Cubs' postseason struggles

Let's get something out of the way first:

The Cubs are in the National League Championship Series and only trailing 1-0 after one game in which the team was mentally and physically drained following a lit, emotional NLDS Game 5 and subsequent cross-country journey from the east coast to the west coast which also included an emergency stop in New Mexico. Oh yeah and the Cubs also were forced to face the best pitcher on the planet.

So there's no reason for Cubs fans to run for the hills waving their arms in panic and yelling obscenities. 

Also worth noting: This is a best-of-7 series, so there's not quite as much randomness and there is more time for the Cubs to right the ship and clinch their second straight World Series bid.

But for right now, things are bleak and here are the main reasons why:

Jose Quintana has the second-highest postseason batting average on the Cubs.

Everybody is complaining about the bullpen, and they are due their fair share of frustration from the Cubs' fanbase over the last six games. More on that to come.

But the offense has been horrendous in October. They finished the NLDS with a .180 batting average and somehow went DOWN in Game 1 of the NLCS.

The Cubs are now hitting .172 (31-for-180) as a team with only Albert Almora Jr. (3-for-9) and Quintana (1-for-4) hitting above .222.

Batting average isn't everything, of course, but hits are still the best way to score runs and scoring runs is still necessary to wins.

The Cubs scored 9 runs in NLDS Game 5. They have 10 runs in the four other postseason games combined.

Besides Game 5, the Cubs have averaged 2 runs per game this fall.

Sure, all six of those games have been started by National League Cy Young finalists (Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez), but the Cubs keep reiterating that if they want to be the best, they gotta beat the best. They just aren't beating the best offensively this fall.

It's not like they faced scrubs in the magical 2016 World Series run, either, forced to face Kershaw twice plus Corey Kluber three times in the World Series and Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto on the NLDS.

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have combined for 18 Ks and only 3 BBs.

That's a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

In the 2017 regular season, the two superstars combined for 218 strikeouts compared to 186 walks. That's a 1.17:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

You want to know why the offense has struggled? Its two best hitters have regressed mightily.

But they have found ways to drive in 8 runs and of course, there are still at least three games to climb out of their funk.

Rizzo was off to a rough start to the postseason last year, too, and found his groove again at Dodger Stadium. Matt Szczur isn't around to lend Rizzo his bat again, but can the face of the Cubs find his groove in Hollywood Sunday?

Four Cubs relievers have combined for a 17.06 ERA and 3.16 WHIP.

Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Hector Rondon and John Lackey have combined to surrender 12 earned runs, 20 baserunners and four homers in 6.1 innings. 

Lackey and Rondon just pitched for the first time Saturday, combining to get 6 outs while allowing two hits, a walk, a run and a homer.

It's Edwards and Montgomery that are killing the Cubs out of the bullpen. Two of the most important relievers in Maddon's bullpen have struggled to gain any semblance of rhythm this October and that needs to change immediately if the Cubs have any visions of heading to Houston or New York later this month.

Wade Davis has saved three games and bailed the Cubs out big time in Game 5 Thursday, but he's still allowed seven baserunners (three walks and four hits, including a homer) and two runs in 4.1 innings, so he's been far from a shutdown reliever, too.

Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop have combined to allow only three baserunners in 4.2 innings (two walks and a hit) and just one run. So maybe they see their number called more as this NLCS moves along.

The starting rotation has just a 1-1 record.

Wins are a completely overrated stat, but the Cubs starters have been absolutely incredible this postseason.

Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and Jose Quintana have teamed up for this stat line in their starts: 1.99 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 19 hits, 7 earned runs, 14 walks, 30 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.

That's the kind of line that should elicit far more than a 1-1 record, especially when going up against the high-powered offenses of Washington and Los Angeles.

David Bote's unique perspective on the rise of the Cubs

David Bote's unique perspective on the rise of the Cubs

CLEVELAND — David Bote hugged and high-fived so many people he didn't even know.

In other words, he was just like every other Cubs fan.

Bote has been here since the beginning — an 18th round pick in 2012, Theo Epstein's first draft with the Cubs front office.

You better believe Bote was there at the end, too.

He sat down the right field line in Game 5 of the 2016 World Series, cheering on a gaggle of former teammates and a bunch of guys he had never played with.

Bote understands the family dynamic fans experience at Wrigley Field, celebrating with people he'd never speak to again.

And all along, he never told them who he was or that he had played with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell and Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. in the minors.

Bote is a Colorado native who got the call to the big leagues last weekend when Ben Zobrist went on the disabled list and played his first game in front of family and friends at Coors Field. To make it even sweeter, Bote doubled in his first MLB at-bat.

"I thought [Rockies CF Charlies] Blackmon was gonna catch it," Bote said. "I saw him kinda coastin' to it and I was like, 'No way you're about to catch this.' And then I realized he was playing it off the wall.

"I got to second base and turned around, all 24 of those guys are standing up on the top step, raising their hands, giving me the peace sign. I don't want to say it was a relief, but it's more of kinda like that jittery feeling of 'That was pretty sweet.'" 

Bote, 25, understands he's not up here to play a huge role — he's only recorded 5 trips to the plate in 4 games — but he knows the 2018 Cubs have a World Series or bust mindset and he wants to do all he can to get the team there once again.

He's never been considered a top prospect and played all over the field in the Cubs minor-league system — every position but catcher and center field (yes, he's even pitched 7 innings) — and realizes how hard it is for a utility guy to even make it to the majors.

"It's crazy because coming from where I have in my baseball career as a guy who's been bounced around or not looked at as what people say as an organizational player," Bote said. "Obviously the Cubs had belief in me and I've had belief in myself too of making it here and blocking out the outside noise.

"It was tough at times. And then to make your debut and play in the big leagues and then to be with these guys and be competing at the highest level for the highest prize in the game is something I can't even put into words.

"I'm super grateful, humbled and blessed to have been part of it and to make it and to be here with this club especially is a very humbling experience."

Bote has been at Wrigley a bunch, including the World Series contest plus Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS — where he celebrated Travis Wood's homer — as well as a memorable regular-season game in July 2015. The kid sitting in front of Bote was crying after the Cubs blew a lead and surrendered four runs to the Colorado Rockies in the top of the ninth inning on that July 27th evening. To help ease his pain, Bote told the kid they were about to witness a Kris Bryant walk-off...which is exactly what happened.

But for all the times he's been to Wrigley as a fan, Bote has never once stepped foot on the hallowed ground of the diamond.

That will change Thursday when he will finally get an opportunity to experience it as a player in those historic pinstripes and blue "C".

And you better believe Bote's got that day circled on his calendar:

"There's no better place on Earth."

Is this catch by Reed Johnson the best of the last decade?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Is this catch by Reed Johnson the best of the last decade?

Ten years ago today, Reed Johnson had one of the best catches in a Cubs uniform.

On April 26, 2008, the Cubs outfielder made a spectacular diving catch off of Nationals' Felipe Lopez's liner to center field. Johnson had to run to his right in what felt like a mile to track down. He then dove for it on the warning track going head first into the wall. Remember this?

How he caught it? Not sure. And how he didn't get hurt? Don't know that either.

But a lot of members on the Cubs at the time raved about the catch (Len Kasper's call was also phenomenal), and joked that they're happy it didn't happen on W. Addison St.

"At Wrigley Field they might have had to call a timeout to find his head in the vines," manager Lou Piniella said after that game.

There have been some outstanding catches since that catch in 2008. Jason Heyward's diving grab in San Francisco, Javier Baez's catch against the Miami Marlins where he dove into the crowd, Anthony Rizzo's tarp catches. There are a handful of them. 

But where does this one rank?