Will anyone at long last give the Cubs’ starters a little help?

It’s not easy being a Cubs starting pitcher these days. Between a soft bullpen with no closer and a punchless lineup, a Cubs starter’s only friend is his fastball. Maybe his curveball.

The starters, for the most part, tried to carry the Cubs through May, with little luck.

Cubs hitters have been slumping, and the few home runs they have hit lately they seem to save for the rare game when a Cubs starter gets roughed up. The Cubs have a .227 team average, good for 14th in the league, through Wednesday. They’re slugging .365, 11th in the NL. Their 51 homers rank eighth, but they haven’t hit for much power lately.

The bullpen — at least the part of it that isn’t on the injured list — has been a mess, with the lack of a closer especially glaring.

Poor Ben Brown threw seven shutout, no-hit innings earlier in the week and still didn’t get the win. Javier Assad was merely good Friday, so the Cubs lost 5-4. It feels like a starter needs to be perfect to win a game.

It’s hard to single out any one or two batters as the culprits. Nobody is hitting well. Veterans Cody Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki, Dansby Swanson, Ian Happ all have left themselves a lot of room for improvement. They all need to figure out the problem before this funk gets too deep.

Not including Friday’s loss the Cubs still had a 59.6% chance at making the playoffs, according to Baseball Reference, but that percentage has been dropping like a flyball lost in the right-field sun.

Since May 10 they’ve gone 5-14, settling in at 28-30 for a night that probably won’t be that restful.

It’s time for new manager Craig Counsell to earn that big contract.

· The White Sox took an eight-game losing streak into Friday night’s game in Milwaukee. They had lost 12 of 13 entering Friday’s game.

Apparently that 5-5 stretch they had in early May only offered a little bit of false hope. The team we all thought they would be is back and as miserable as ever, 15-42, the worst record in the majors. Every other team has at least 20 wins.

Sorry, Sox fans. You deserve better.

· Speaking of miserable, the Chicago Fire is 2-8-6, the 26th-best record in 29-team Major League Soccer. The Fire hasn’t won a game in almost two months. And season-ticket holders report the club is raising prices for 2025 renewals.

The Fire is averaging 17,630 fans, 24th in MLS, for games in 61,500-seat Soldier Field. Raising prices on the few fans who dare to purchase tickets doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. Then again, good ideas have been as scarce as wins.

· The world seems a little less fun now without basketball great Bill Walton in it.

Walton, who died this week of cancer at age 71, felt like the last main link to the legend of John Wooden, one of the greatest and wisest coaches of all time. Walton played for Wooden at UCLA in the 1970s before going into the NBA, where he had a very good career despite serious injuries. It would have been even more fun to watch him play if he had been at full health, but that wasn’t in the cards.

Walton’s broadcasting style seemed to be one you either liked or didn’t like. I was in the former category. He was different, he was irreverent, he was fun. Most of all, he had fun, and he let it show through.

It’s been fun watching those who knew him share their stories of him. It sounds like he was the kind of friend we all wish we could have.

· Finally, farewell to longtime Daily Herald high school sports colleague John Radtke, who died recently at age 66 and whose funeral was Friday in Elgin. He will be missed.

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