What is this feeling? It's so strangeâ€¦vaguely familiarâ€¦I knew it well onceâ€¦oh, that's it. It's a slump. The first true slump the Cubs have had all season. But truth be told, this stretch will not solidify its slump status until the outcome of this four-game road series with the Giants. The ultimate definition of a slump is when you lose to a bad team amidst a losing streak resulting in consecutive losses. Considering what the Cubs have done with the division rivals of the Giants, I would say if the Cubs don't return to form here, the status will reach official slumpdom.
Look behind you Cubs fans. You won't turn into a pillar of salt, but the Cardinals are now just 2 Â½ back and just licking their chops at a chance to play this wounded team at home this weekend and take a division lead and the Brewers are just two games behind them. Getting to play a Giants team 10 games under .500 before then is a gift the Cubs need to take advantage of. If they don't, well, Cubs fans will hit panic mode.
It wasn't exactly June swoon for the Cubs, more like Juneâ€¦bleh. Depending on the outcome of tonight's game, the Cubs will either finish June 1 or 2 games over .500. When you consider yourself a great team, this is considered a bad stretch. If the Cubs keep playing .500 baseball or worse at this point, there is legitimate concern.
I understand the thing with injuries. Where are these coming from anyway? Fukudome, Theriot and Edmonds all had stints where they couldn't play in addition to Soriano, Zambrano, Reed Johnson and Scott Eyre on the DL. The Cubs lineup has been horridly inconsistent because of interleague play and all these injuries. If no one else catches the banged up virus, it will be refreshing to see this lineup return to form by the Cardinals series minus Soriano.
Injuries heal with time, but what about bad pitching? Gladly Sean Marshall will be out of the lineup and likely put in the pen with Eyre out. He might be effective there this time around and we all know the Cubs could use someone to rely on against lefties other than Neal Cotts. Gallagher will have a handful of starts probably to prove himself. He can be effective if given a solid pen behind him as he usually doesn't give up more than 3 or 4 runs, but the Cubs have had anything but a good bullpen lately. Unless the bullpen corrects itself, all eyes will be on Jim Hendry for that blockbuster. Watching the Cubs in late May and early June, this team has proven it can hide mediocre starts when its pen is hot. As far as the pen goes, should there be concern with Carlos Marmol? I'd like to think he can correct himself, but he's young-he's not Eyre or Bob Howry. That homerun he gave up to Quentin Saturday was just maddening-a half swing took that thing out to the opposite field and I'd have to believe that's Quentin not Marmol. Marmol's problems have been occasional home runs and wild pitching and both seem to be coming out now. His progress should truly have everyone's attention in Chicago because he makes this bullpen tick.
Looking to the San Francisco series, I have some faith backed up by an insurance plan. I think the Cubs can at least take 2 here so I'm excited for the start of the series, especially because those match-ups favor the Cubs, but if they start to look bad early on, I'm going into pessimist mode pretty quickly. I know Barry Zito is coming off a solid last start, but for as horrid as he has pitched this year to see him shut down the Cubs would be insulting. With Ted Lilly being the Cubs' winningest pitcher of late, it would be a shame to waste his start. Both Lilly and Marquis have been the best pitchers on the road for the Cubs behind Zambrano, with Marquis having the lowest road ERA in the rotation and both of them having 3 wins.I don't have a ton of faith in Marquis, but Tuesday is his chance to prove his last start was a one-time deal.