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The Cubs’ record isn’t that special anymore

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes the Cubs falling back to Earth, a great Indians’ decision, and why the Braves should think of dealing Julio Teheran.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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The Cubs have lost four games in a row. They’re still in first place in the NL Central and are nine games up on the second-place Cardinals, but their overall record just isn’t what it was earlier in the year: that nine-game lead isn’t even the largest division lead in the majors anymore. The Cubs are 47-24, but now two other teams have 47 wins, as well: the Rangers are 47-26 (and 10 games up on the Astros), and the Giants are 47-27. Those are both worse records than what Chicago is sporting, yes, but the difference in pace for end-of-season wins is no longer eye-popping. The Cubs are on pace for 107 wins, while the Rangers and Giants are both on pace for 103.

This is not to say that the Cubs are bad or it’s time to panic or anything like that, but it is a reminder that baseball is as difficult as the season is long, and a record-setting pace over a month-plus is only that. Since matching the best start in franchise history on May 10 with their 25th win, the Cubs are just 22-18. That 25-6 start is 25 wins in the bank, and it’s the kind of absurd stretch that can carry even a sub-.500 team over the rest of the season. The Cubs aren’t actually a .500 team — while their record has been so-so since tying their own history, their run differential has jumped from +103 to +162 — so they’re unlikely to limp into October or anything like that. Still, this is why you see Chicago looking at ways to upgrade in spite of their league-leading performance.

There are ebbs and flows to the season, and just as the Cubs weren’t as good as their start that had them on pace for 130 wins, with a higher run differential than the Braves had runs scored, their last six weeks or so aren’t who they are, either. They have to figure out the tweaks they need to make, find out what’s keeping Jason Heyward from contributing at the plate, and hope that they aren’t in the midst of one of their so-so runs when they can’t afford one later on this year. You know, just like every other playoff team, whether they’re historically relevant or run-of-the-mill good, has to hope each fall.