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Kris Bryant Says Cubs Have 'No Need to Worry,' Joe Maddon Talks Slow Start

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14:  Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with Kris Bryant #17 after a victory against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs started the 2016 season with a sparkling 25-6 record before ultimately overcoming 108 years of frustration with a World Series title. This year's version has the 25 in the win column but an uglier 24 in the loss column.

"Please, go ahead and freak out," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said when asked about fans' concerns with his team's slower start, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. "If you want to freak out, freak out."

Rogers noted Maddon was trying to emphasize there is no panic in the clubhouse even if the Chicago faithful are feeling uneasy after the team's three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant didn't seem particularly concerned with the team's place in the standings on May 28, either, per Rogers:

"I don't see any reason to worry, especially given what we did last year. There is no need to worry. You're going to have your good years, you're going to have your bad years. Your good starts, your bad starts. This is an average start; it's not a terrible start. Sometimes it happens. We've spoiled ourselves with last year and that start. I guess it's a good thing to have those expectations because we do, too."

Chicago's starting pitching has been plenty disappointing, and even its most consistent starter, Jon Lester, was crushed Sunday for six earned runs in a 9-4 loss. What's more, 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta sports a 4.92 ERA, Kyle Hendricks 3.25 ERA isn't quite last year's league-leading 2.13 and John Lackey boasts an ugly 5.18 mark.

That foursome was the backbone of last year's World Series team, making the struggles all the more stark.

However, it is unfair to pin all of the blame on the arms. Slugger Kyle Schwarber is hitting .177, shortstop Addison Russell is at .217 and even superstar Anthony Rizzo is hitting .239. Schwarber and Russell, in particular, look nothing like the World Series heroes they were a season ago.

Rogers also noted the Cubs are dead last in the National League in hitting with runners in scoring position, exacerbating their problems at the most inopportune times.

ESPN Stats & Info put the hitting concerns into perspective:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Dodgers: back-to-back shutouts of Cubs, allow 3/fewer hits in each. A reigning WS champion hadn’t had that done to them in almost 100 years https://t.co/vTZ91NzxeT

The silver lining for Chicago and the likely reason Maddon and Bryant weren't too concerned is the fact it is only May 28. There is still plenty of time to turn things around, and the Cubs are just 1.5 games behind the surprising first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

Chicago has the talent to change the narrative surrounding its 2017 season. Even if it doesn't, every single Cubs fan "freaking out" can still take solace in knowing they were a part of history a year ago.

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