Will deadline activity be enough to stop Cubs' slide?
After starting 13-3, the Cubs are in a 7-11 slide as they head into the month of September.
They still have a great chance of making the playoffs, obviously, since eight teams in each league will qualify.
But will the four players acquired before the MLB trade deadline struck Monday be enough to get them back on a winning track?
On the surface, the answer appears to be no. The biggest change in the Cubs between 13-3 and 7-11 was starting pitching. Twelve of those first 13 victories were wins by the starting pitcher, as the Cubs had an amazing run of quality starts.
Since they were 13-3, Yu Darvish has gone 3-0, but there's been only one other victory by a starting pitcher -- Alec Mills in the opener at Detroit last week. Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester are winless during that stretch.
So they'll hope the return of Jose Quintana from a lacerated left thumb will bring a boost to the rotation. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tyler Chatwood will likely go on the injured list, but the team is hoping he'll be back again this season.
Chatwood left Sunday's game in Cincinnati with right elbow soreness. Hoyer called the injury a flexor pronator strain.
"Starting pitching market was a tough market to be fishing in," Hoyer said. "Not a lot of starters got moved."
So the Cubs focused on two specific weaknesses -- left-handed relief pitching and right-handed hitters who can hit left-handed pitching.
On Monday, the Cubs acquired veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin from Detroit for infield prospect Zack Short. They also added two left-handed relievers -- Andrew Chafin from Arizona and Josh Osich from Boston.
Chafin is currently on the injured list with a left finger sprain. Hoyer said Chafin has already been cleared to throw, and the hope is he'll be able to join the Cubs in about two weeks. The deals with Arizona and Boston involve either cash or a player to be named later.
On Sunday, the Cubs added designated hitter Jose Martinez in a trade with Tampa Bay. The former Cardinal is here to help hit lefties.
"If we had six months to play, I think maybe we would have felt like, 'OK that's going to even out,'" Hoyer said. "We don't necessarily have time for those things to even out. We just haven't hit lefties.
"It felt like teams were able to run left-handed pitching out against us without much fear. With Jose and Cam, (Steven) Souza coming off the DL and Kris (Bryant) coming off the DL, maybe that can be something we turn into a strength."
Hoyer said he expects Bryant to come off the injured list Tuesday after recovering from a sore left wrist.
To make room on the roster, infielder Hernan Perez and outfielder Ian Miller were designated for assignment. Hoyer said the Cubs will send Albert Almora Jr. to South Bend, while sticking Maybin into the utility outfielder role.
"Albert hasn't gotten consistent at bats and I think as a result, it's been a challenge for him to play sporadically and be able to produce," Hoyer said.
"I think sometimes a veteran player like a Cam Maybin at this point in his career is used to coming off the bench and pinch-hitting and playing a little bit less. And we get a chance to send Albert to the alt site and he can get a bunch of at bats and hopefully get clicking."
The Cubs offense has been puzzling, with Javy Baez (. 202), Willson Contreras (. 196) and Bryant (. 177) struggling badly. But scoring runs hasn't been a big factor in the slide. They averaged 5.2 runs during the 13-3 start and 4.6 since.
Besides Darvish, the other breakout star saving the Cubs is Ian Happ, who leads the team in average (. 294), home runs (9) and RBI (20). Kyle Schwarber shares the home run lead with Happ.