Memorial Day is traditionally a good place to begin taking stock of teams. The season is about a third of the way through, and sample sizes are getting bigger and bigger.
As for his team, manager David Ross was blunt when he assessed where the Cubs were heading into Saturday’s game with the Reds.
“We’re not where we want to be, yet. I’m sure of that,” Ross said. “There’s still a lot of potential to be better in a lot of areas. We had some success early on, kind of hit a little bit of a rut this last month and haven’t really gotten on any kind of roll. You can point to a lot of different areas where we can be better, but it’s collectively as a group.”
The Cubs began Saturday 22-28. As Ross said, the Cubs got off to a promising start, getting to five games above .500 by the second half of April. But May has not been as productive, and the Cubs started play Saturday 9-15 in the month.
And there isn’t just one culprit for the downturn that has the Cubs closer to last place than first place in the underwhelming National League Central.
The Cubs bullpen has been a sore spot, and the offense has dipped. Ross’ decision-making in close games has come under scrutiny and even the starting pitching, a strength of the team, has had issues recently.
“The team as a whole works really hard and brings the competitiveness, their work ethic, their intensity every single day,” Ross said. “There’s moments where we could have been better out of the bullpen, there’s moments as of late our offense hasn’t really started to roll as a whole. We’ve gotten some good starting pitching, I think the most consistently, but we definitely have our blips like [Friday], like anybody does.
“But as a whole, we’re not where we want to be. I definitely know that.”
The Cubs gave Trey Mancini a two-year, $14 million contract to provide veteran experience and right-handed power. So far, the Cubs are waiting for that power to kick in.
Mancini, who hit fifth and started Saturday at first base, entered the game with just three home runs and a .345 slugging percentage. Ross said Mancini wants to drive the ball a little more and do more damage and “be that guy in the middle of our order that can put the ball in the seats, which he’s done at times in his career.”
“It’s just about a little bit of a guy feeling for his swing early on that’s still going to have some production, but not the production he’s quite wanted yet,” Ross said. “He’s still working towards that.”
This and that…
Reliever Codi Heuer was scheduled to throw Saturday night for Triple-A Iowa. Heuer, who was acquired along with Nick Madrigal in the 2021 deal that sent Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox, underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2022.
* Eric Hosmer was granted his unconditional release Friday. Before he was designated for assignment May 19, Hosmer was hitting .234 with two home runs in 31 games.
* Mayor Brandon Johnson threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game. Wearing a jersey with 57 on the back - for being the city’s 57th mayor - Johnson threw to Cubs reliever Adbert Alzolay.