The Cubs know that they'll enjoy the time off during the All-Star break. What comes after that is a mystery.


The Cubs are tired. You can see it on their faces and hear it in their voices; the grind of a 162 game season is evident as they open up their last series before the All-Star break. And after a June that saw them lose more games than they won, in a division that’s separated by only 4.5 games, the Cubs know that their first half should have gone better. 

“We just need to win these ballgames and go into the break and clear our minds a little bit,” Willson Contreras said. “Other than that, we’ve been doing a good job but we have to get better at some little things.” 

Both Contreras and team President Theo Epstein mentioned the urgency in which the Cubs need to clean up the mental errors that have plagued them much of the year. This year the team ranks 19th in FanGraphs’ baserunning stat and 14th in Defensive Runs Saved. Their 62 errors is the 6th-most in baseball. 

“I think there’s a lot of great things going on - we just haven’t put our best foot forward lately,” Epstein said. “And we need to keep working hard to turn that around. That’s the mindset we have.”

The absence of Ben Zobrist - widely lauded for his professionalism and consistency at the plate - has been hard to ignore throughout the first three months. Joe Maddon even commented on how not having him in the lineup every day has caused the offense to be more volatile. 

“We’ll get it going back in the right direction, it’s just been difficult,” he said. “We’ve got to get our hitting in order - we’ve talked about that a lot. Once Cole gets back it gets the rotation back on board, and once Craig gets his feet on the ground that’s all going to help.” 

For now, the Cubs are at Guaranteed Rate Field for the final 2 of their Crosstown Series games against the White Sox. Following Sunday’s game, with the exception of Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, and Contreras, they’ll get four days in a row off for the first time since early February. 

“There’s two games and then the All-Star break, and I think guys are really going to use it to their advantage,” Bryant said. “Guys seem a lot more chipper and happier - it’s always nice when you can go into an off day with a nice win, so we’ll finish this first half off strong.”

This current group, as constructed, will be on the clock when they reconvene at Wrigley Field for a weekend series against the Pirates - the first of 45 divisional games in the second half, the most in baseball. Earlier in the week, Epstein went on the Cubs’ flagship radio station and discussed the trade deadline, saying that large changes were in store if play didn’t improve. Another week or two of sub-.500 play and some of the players that Cubs fans have gotten so used to seeing each of the last 4-5 summers may not stick around for the rest of this one.

“We’re not trying to turn it around just because there’s a trade deadline, we’re trying to turn it around because we just want to win,” Kris Bryant said. “I think that’s always been our focus and what’s always made us really good - that we’re able to get over things really quickly and turn the page. I don’t expect anything different from this group.”

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