Chicago Cubs: Team somehow on 100-loss pace after deadline

Aug 16, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) reacts at home after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) reacts at home after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Remember when the Chicago Cubs were pretty good? Like a month ago?

On July 17 — just one month ago —  the Cubs beat Arizona 4-2 to level their record at 46-46.

As unlikely as it sounds, that same team – well, the same uniforms, anyway — could be on its way to a 100-loss season.

A shocking downfall in Chicago

That may not be the kind of finish Cubs management envisioned when it tore the club up at the July 31 trade deadline. But the trades of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin, Joc Pederson, Jake Marisnick, and Ryan Tepera have put the team on a short-term course for a finish of virtually unprecedented ineptitude.

In the throes of a second double-digit losing streak this season, it is now possible to project the 2021 Cubs into the realm of 100-game losers.

Here’s the math:

  • With their 12-3 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds Monday night in Cincinnati, the Cubs now stand 52-69 with 41 games to play.
  • The most reliable way of forecasting what a team might do over the course of those remaining 41 games is what’s called the Bill James Pythagorean formula. Simply put, square the number of runs scored and runs allowed, and calculate the percentage of the first as a function of the total.
  • Since the team now on the field bears no functional resemblance to the pre-July 31 team, it makes sense to run those numbers only for Cubs games played since August 1. Here they are:
  • Runs scored: 57. The square of 57 is 3,249.
  • Runs allowed: 118. The square of 118 is 13,924.
  • 3,249 divided by (3,249 / 13,924) = .189.

In short, the most likely winning percentage for this particular Cubs team – the post-August 1 one, not the pre-deadline one – is .189, which across the 41 remaining games translates to an 8-33 performance.

And that brings the 2021 Cubs home by season’s end at 60-102. As unthinkable as it sounds, that would represent the franchise’s worst finish since 1966, when they went 59-103.

If that sounds like an impossibly bad finish, consider that the post-deadline Cubs have won just once in 14 starts. In five of those defeats, they’ve given up double-figure runs. Only five of the 13 defeats have been by one or two runs.

If the club is going to avoid 100 losses, they’d better be about doing it soon. Their August schedule includes series with fellow low-renters Kansas City, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh.

Next. Brewers billboard in Chicago misses mark. dark

But after September 5, the Cubs finish with 24 games, most of them against the Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Giants and Cardinals.  The Cubs are 16-34 so far against those teams.