As the roster has gotten younger through attrition and trades, the problem has become magnified with free-swinging youngsters like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters now getting regular playing time in their initial stints as big leaguers. During August, the Cubs have averaged just 3.5 runs per game while hitting .221 as a team with a .292 on-base percentage. It's enough to try a first-year manager's patience.
"[My patience is] intact," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "But I'm not going to lie to you, it gets a little wearing, with some of the non-contested at-bats sometimes. Like I've been talking about the last few days in Milwaukee, the ability to grind when you're in the batter's box.
"To not just give up an at-bat, because, maybe, the guy made a good pitch and a guys is in scoring position. These are times when you have to grind at-bats to get another pitch. Sometimes that's got nothing to do with being young."
The Cubs have scored two runs or fewer in 10 of their past 21 games, of which they've won just four. Despite the struggles, one player who has remained consistent is outfielder David DeJesus, who has a .370 on-base percentage in August while hitting four of his six homers.
According to Stats, LLC., DeJesus ranks seventh in the NL with an average of 4.08 pitches seen per plate appearance, something that Sveum said is a good example for his younger hitters.
"Sometimes that takes 10 years in the big leagues to accumulate, just the understanding of battling all the time," Sveum said. "Don't just give in because the guy made a good pitch with two strikes. Try to foul it off.
"But it's important to have a guy like that. He's had a great year for us. He's done a great job in that leadoff spot, as well as defense."