After yet another road loss last night against the Phillies, in which the Cubs looked lost in every facet of the game besides starting pitching, it’s not a bad time to objectively look at what Cubs fans can realistically expect in regard to the postseason (if they even make it). It isn’t as if this is an overreaction to one bad road trip. It’s also not as if this string of road struggles has only been for a month. It has been all season. The Cubs have not won a road series since May 17-19 against the Washington Nationals. Yes, that is over 12 weeks ago. No other team in baseball can say that. The Cubs have a 23-36 road record. That is second-worst in the National League, better than only the laughable Miami Marlins, the one team in the NL that is truly ‘tanking.’
I’ve been preaching all season that the Cubs lack any fire in their game, and these road woes are a testament to exactly that. They seem to sleepwalk through games, and there’s no internal voice in the locker room to rile the team up to help them realize they are in danger of not winning the division for the second consecutive year. The acquisition of Nicholas Castellanos has helped a little bit in that regard, but it’s going to take more than one man to turn the narrative around on the road. The Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball at home with a 41 – 19 record, second to only the powerhouse Dodgers in the NL. It seems like the energy of Wrigley Field acts as a catalyst for this team, as the players feed off of it and actually play with a sense of urgency. You would think after how last year’s season ended, they would have enough mental fortitude to be intrinsically motivated anywhere they play, but that hasn’t been evident this year.
Even if the Cubs win the NL Central, the road to winning the NL pennant leads directly through not only the Dodgers but also the Atlanta Braves. With a 71 – 50 record, the Braves have a considerable lead for that coveted home-field advantage in the NLDS against the NL Central champion, which is hopefully the Cubs. Can the Cubs realistically win 3 of 5 against the Braves, with three of those games played away from Wrigley Field? Forget the Dodgers, that should be the benchmark right now. And at this moment, the answer to that question is no.
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