Joe Maddon Says Sleep Deprivation Factors into Cubs' Slow Start

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 25:  Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 25, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The 17-17 Chicago Cubs look nothing like the version of themselves that won 103 games and snapped a 108-year World Series curse last year, and manager Joe Maddon has a theory why.

"I sense sleep deprivation more than anything," Maddon said Wednesday, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. "Sleep deprivation has a lot to do with it. Right from the beginning of the year our schedule has been awkward. No one has had a chance to settle in."

Rogers explained the Cubs played an 18-inning game, 13-inning game, two Sunday night contests and landed at 5 a.m. after overnight travel to Denver for a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies in the last eight days.

That is enough to tire even the defending champions, although Maddon also pointed to defense and pitching as concerns: "To this point we haven't pitched nearly as well, as starters. The biggest thing for me is defense. We haven't caught the ball with the regularity that we normally do. Those were our bedrocks of our performance."

On the starting pitching front, Brett Anderson suffered a back injury and has a 8.18 ERA, 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta has a 5.35 ERA and 38-year-old John Lackey has a 4.29 ERA.

Maddon is correct about the defensive slippage as well.

According to FanGraphs, the Cubs were responsible for 82 total defensive runs saved last year, a whopping 31 over the second-place Houston Astros. They are at a solid six in the early going this year but nowhere near the comparative monster they were in 2016 at first in the league.

The welcome news for the Cubs is the fact they are just 2.5 games back of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and have a chance to rectify recent woes with a three-game series against their rivals starting Friday.