Cubs 0, Marlins 2: The Offense Whiffs Sending the Cubs Packing

Copy and paste. That is the Cubs 2020 season in a nutshell. I could have basically copied the same game article and pasted it the next day just about all season long. The postseason was a microcosm of the Cubs season-long struggles. The approach of the offense, or lack thereof, has been a consistent story. They just couldn’t break out of the season-long slump. They couldn’t string together hits in critical moments. And ultimately, they couldn’t come close to matching the effort and results of the starting rotation. The complete implosion of the core that has been brewing for a couple of years is why the Cubs are leaving the playoffs after two unsatisfying games.

The Good 

Yu Darvish was mesmerizing to watch in this one. Yes, he is the “losing” pitcher, but this loss belongs to the offense. Darvish had a final line of 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, and 6 SO. He allowed a solo home run to Garrett Cooper, the second run coming via an RBI single by Magneuris Sierra

So, if one only looks at the line score, it may seem strange for me to use the word “mesmerizing,” but the eye test was something else altogether. This is playoff baseball. The opposition is going to score runs. A winning team needs a pitcher that works out of difficult situations, keeps the opposition off-balance, and pitches deep into the game. Yu Darvish, as he’s done all season long, checked all three boxes. In many ways, I was left feeling like the offense simply didn’t deserve the effort Darvish put forward.

The Bad

The Cubs had a scoring opportunity in the fourth. Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber started the frame with consecutive walks. After a Kris Bryant lineup, Jason Heyward lined a single to right. Contreras had to hold up momentarily to make sure it would fall in, then attempted to score and was thrown out at the plate.  

In truth, I have zero issues with the send. When the offense is struggling so badly, you have to take your chances. It took a perfect play and throw to get Contreras, and that’s what the Marlins got. So, while this falls under the “bad” category because it took the wind out of the rally, it still was a good call to send him. The secondary storyline to this season has been the Cubs horrible luck. This was a perfect example.

The Ugly

Unquestionably, the Cubs offense was ugly in this game, in this series, and in 2020. I could write so much more, but honestly, I’m just tired. It’s been a long year.

What’s Next

This is an absolutely fantastic question. What is next for the Chicago Cubs? In the immediate sense, the season is over. There will be no more Cubs games in 2020. But this question is so much bigger.  

This team is built around a core of players that did, indeed, win the 2016 World Series. It’s getting harder and harder to see that ghost of a champion in this roster, but it is there. The problem is that the league caught up, and the players seem to have failed to adjust. After a third consecutive NLCS appearance in 2017, the Cubs have been on a steady decline. I cannot begin to decipher the cause in this article, but suffice it to say, whatever they are trying isn’t working.

The story of the offseason is going to be extensions and expiring contracts. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez will hit the market after 2021 (assuming they are offered arbitration this offseason). Willson Contreras hits the market after 2022. The window is slamming shut quickly. In fact, it’s probably closed for this roster construction. Who does the front office believe will be centerpieces for the next phase of the Cubs history?

The uncertainty around the financial prospects for Major League Baseball in the coming years due to COVID means that no one can know what to expect from the free-agent market after the 2021 season. After horrific offensive seasons, what value would any of the above-mentioned members of the core have on the trade market? They are all essentially one year rentals (except for Contreras).  

The crazy thing for most Cubs fans is that this off-season sure feels a whole lot like the last one, maybe even the previous two. Too little has been done to fix the broken offense. The problem is, after all, with the players, not the coaches or manager.  

Copy and Paste. That seems to be the storyline of 2020 and the narrative of this off-season. We’ve been here before? Will the results be the same, or is it time to blow it up and rebuild/retool?  

Featured Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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