Theo Epstein calls Cubs’ struggles of late ‘sort of baseball reality’
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein understands how the team’s recent struggles may be the source of concern for fans but believes it’s simply a part of a standard season’s ups and downs.
“Honestly, I think it’s sort of baseball reality,” he said, via ESPN’s John Jackson. “It’s impossible to win at the pace we were winning at early in the season the whole year. Every team, even championship-caliber clubs, go through a month or so where they play .500 or so baseball, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s not surprising.
Esptein added he remains confident that the team will be able to recapture the magic that led to a torrid April when the team stormed out of the gates to a 17-5 record.
The Cubs have lost six of seven games and three in a row with a low point being last weekend’s four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets, who also swept the team out of the playoffs last season in the NLCS. Cubs pitchers’ ERA has ballooned to 6.97 in July, well above the 3.19 ERA the team has enjoyed overall this season.
Epstein laments the continued struggles of the bullpen as well as a “rough turn or two through the rotation” but doesn’t lay the blame for the team’s recent slide entirely on the pitching staff, saying, “[e]very element of the club has played some part in us not playing our best baseball recently.”
The Cubs (52-33) boast the major league’s second-best winning percentage (.612) despite struggling of late, trailing only the 54-33 San Francisco Giants (.621).
But as noted, Epstein understands how the Cubs’ supposedly “cursed” existence plays a significant role in how some of the team’s long-suffering fans may be reaching for the panic button.
“People ask me, ‘Is it fair to be concerned?'” he said. “Of course, it’s fair to be concerned because baseball is really hard. It’s hard to play at a consistently excellent level for 162 games. There should always be an element of concern.
“But if it’s fair to be concerned, then it’s just as fair — if not more fair — to be very excited about what this team is and what they’re capable of and the foundation for this year and years to come.”
Epstein attempted in May to downplay the hype surrounding the Cubs’ red-hot start. It appears now his words of warning were extremely prescient.