On June 24, Zach Davies and three relievers combined for a no-hitter as the Chicago Cubs beat the Dodgers 4-0 in Los Angeles. The win kept Chicago tied atop the NL Central standings, a position they had been in – sometimes even with a slight lead – for most of the month. But the Cubs have dropped 10 straight games since that time, rapidly falling out of the divisional race and threatening their playoff hopes.
Over that same stretch, the Milwaukee Brewers have won eight of their last 10 games. The Cubs now sit 8.5 games back in the NL Central race.
Phillies humiliate Cubs in Chicago
In fact, Chicago has slipped all the way to third, with the Cincinnati Reds sitting just six games back. The similarly disappointing St. Louis Cardinals are just a half-game behind Chicago, with only the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates (31-53) far behind the pack.
Some of the losses have been close. The Cubs dropped three straight, one-run decision games to the Reds over the weekend. Then, on Monday, Chicago returned home (the previous nine losses had all come on the road) only for the Phillies to blast them 13-3.
“We’re obviously trying,” Cubs infielder Javier Baez told reporters after Monday’s loss. “It’s not fun, let me tell you that. But we’re trying and everybody’s mad. I’m mad about it. The only thing I can do is come back tomorrow and try it again.”
The 10-game losing streak is Chicago’s longest since 2012 when the Cubs dropped 12 straight in May.
Chicago came into the season as one of four teams – again, discounting the Pirates – with a realistic chance of winning the NL Central. DraftKings Sportsbook rated the Cubs as a +425 pick prior to the start of the season, fourth behind the Cardinals (+105), Brewers (+300), and Reds (+330).
Brewers running away with NL Central
Bookmakers aren’t entirely discounting the Cubs just because of their losing streak, but the situation is beginning to look grim. DraftKings now lists Chicago as the +900 second choice to win the NL Central. The Brewers (-835) have become the overwhelming favorites to take the division.
Cubs manager David Ross earned an ejection from Monday’s game when he argued a ball four call to Bryce Harper in the top of the sixth inning. Umpire Joe West tossed Ross, who later admitted that he was wrong about the call after seeing it on video.
“When you’re going through what we’re going through right now, not hitting up to our capabilities and things don’t go your way and you get to look back at them, there is some frustration,” Ross said, via The Chicago Tribune.
|NL Central Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Milwaukee Brewers: -835|
|Chicago Cubs: +900|
|Cincinnati Reds: +1100|
|St. Louis Cardinals: +1200|
|Pittsburgh Pirates: +50000|
The Cubs rank 21st in the majors in runs scored per game (4.12), and have only managed to stay afloat due to above-average pitching, allowing just 4.29 runs per game. But at 42-43, the Cubs are now under .500 for the first time since May 16. Still, Chicago players remain hopeful. After all, if the team can hit a long losing streak, surely a stretch of wins is possible, too.
“I don’t think, at any point in a season, any player thinks that you can go on a 10-game losing streak,” Davies told reporters. “But those things happen. Teams go on 20-plus-game winning streaks. Hopefully, that’s in our future, but as of right now, we’re trying to get that first one.”