Back in April, the Cubs were fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, and had started the season 11-6. I was on vacation with my family in Florida, and specifically recall remarking to my brother while sitting on the beach that I only wanted to see the Cubs play meaningful games in September again. That, alone, would make me happy.
When the Milwaukee Brewers came to Wrigley Field at the end of August, the Chicago Cubs had earned the privilege of counting it as a playoff series. They've been playing games with the stakes ratcheted that high ever since. Alas, they've lost most of those games.
Almost by accident, the Cubs spent the offseason building a team whose fortunes would depend on the strength of their defense. They got to the final month of the season with that as a winning formula, but the gloves have gone cold.
It's hard to believe it, but the last two nights' worth of painfully close losses against the best team in MLB haven't eliminated the Cubs from playoff contention. On the contrary, they have an open path, yet, to that goal. Let's peek at it.
The Cubs are clinging to a Wild Card spot, hanging on for dear life as they push through the final week of the 2023 regular season. With fluctuating performances from almost everyone on the roster, it’s been left to one man to provide consistent excellence at the plate.
Jameson Taillon pitched brilliantly into the seventh inning, the Cubs offense recaptured the lead twice in late innings, and none of it mattered. At the end of the day, the Cubs aren't the Braves. Here's how Game 2 of the series went down.
The Cubs made a big acquisition at the Trade Deadline this year, bringing back old friend Jeimer Candelario from the Nationals in exchange for a couple of prospects. However, since his hot start with his original club, Candelario hasn’t provided any return on investment. His impending return from a back injury is as important as any development for the Cubs in the final week of the regular season.
The game started with hope and optimism, as Justin Steele held the prolific Braves offense in check into the sixth inning. From there a six-run lead evaporated, along with the Cubs' handle on the Wild Card. By the time the game-winning Braves runs laughed their way home following an inexpliable missed fly ball, the season had turned in less than three innings.
Two weeks ago saw the South Bend Cubs season come to an end. Last week, it was Myrtle Beach who's season came to a halt. With only two teams left playing, Iowa finishing up the regular season and Tennessee in the playoffs, did two become one? Or are there two teams still playing into this week?
When the Cubs announced their probable starters for the penultimate series of their regular season on Sunday, there was a mild surprise in the sequence. It lends us clarity on their thinking over the next week, but raises as many questions as it answers.
The numbers aren't unanimous, but by and large, they say that the Cubs' reigning Gold Glove left fielder is still above-average out there. Reading that, didn't you feel just a little bit of third-party impostor syndrome?
For three years now, the Cubs have handed thankless, unlovable jobs to Patrick Wisdom. In return, he's given them gratitude, love, and a smile that seems to be powering the team into its final, most rigorous trial.