Chicago Cubs

MLB insider names Cubs National League's ‘biggest disappointment'

The Cubs are currently in last place, 10.5 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central

The Chicago Cubs currently reside in last place in the National League Central and are left with some big decisions as July nears, but one MLB insider didn’t mince words when it comes to the North Siders’ performance this season.

In his midseason awards column for USA Today, Bob Nightengale handed out plenty of hardware and gave the Cubs a prize they surely would’ve loved avoiding: the mantel of being the National League’s “Biggest Disappointment.”

“The Cubs spent money, have gotten tremendous value out of rookie sensation Shota Imanaga, and somehow find themselves in last place,” he said. “The only category this team leads is having players thrown out stealing: 35 and counting.”

The Cubs crossed the halfway mark of their season this week, and after Saturday’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in last place in the division, 10.5 games out of first place and six games under the .500 mark. While the club is only four games back of the third wild card spot in the National League, currently held by the St. Louis Cardinals, they would have to jump over seven teams to get there, showing just how tightly bunched the Senior Circuit is this season.

The team’s anemic offense has largely driven their struggles, with only two qualified players currently batting over .250 on the season. Their leading home run hitter, Christopher Morel, is only batting .200 on the season.

Their high-priced free agent signing of the 2023 offseason is still struggling too, as Dansby Swanson is batting .220 with eight home runs and 74 strikeouts.

Justin Steele has started 12 games this season for the Cubs, and despite a 3.20 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 70 innings has still not been credited with a win. Hector Néris, tied for the team lead with seven wins, has a 4.25 ERA and has blown four saves in 15 opportunities for the North Siders.

In spite of all this, there are some signs for hope as the team starts the second half of its season. Ian Happ has an OPS of .900 and has hit five home runs and driven in 20 RBI’s while walking 16 times in the month of June. Michael Busch only has two home runs in the month, but he’s drawn 12 walks and has posted a sparkling slash line of .310/.410/.465 after struggling for a large chunk of May.

Perhaps most surprising of all, Kyle Hendricks has only given up three earned runs in 21.1 innings this month, striking out 12 batters, walking two and giving up zero home runs in two starts since returning to the rotation on June 19.

The injury-depleted team is also hoping to get some key pieces back, including Ben Brown, Mark Leiter Jr. and Jordan Wicks, all of whom are expected to return to the club in July, according to MLB’s Jordan Bastian.

The Cubs will try to pick up a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at American Family Field, with Hendricks taking the ball against Freddy Peralta.

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