Free-falling Cubs staring at loss mark

WASHINGTON -- They were only two defeats, but the Chicago Cubs’ thrashing at the hands of the Washington Nationals in back-to-back days was an obvious sign that they are going to have a tough time avoiding a dubious distinction.

Not only is a 100-loss season clearly in the Cubs’ sights, but the club record of 103 defeats looks fairly attainable now. The Cubs have now lost 15 of their last 20 games.

The Cubs would have to go at least 12-14 the rest of the way to avoid the 100-loss mark and at least 9-17 in order to not reach 103 defeats. If the Cubs play to their .375 win percentage the rest of the way, they are looking at 10 more victories. The only problem is that they have been playing to a .250 win percentage over their last 20 games.

Anthony Rizzo has already vowed to do everything in his power to help the Cubs avoid the 100-loss mark, but this seems to be a job too large for a confident rookie. Rizzo accounted for the Cubs’ only run in their 9-1 defeat Wednesday when he hit a home run in the ninth inning.

“I know it’s something that I don’t want to be part of,” Rizzo said during the previous homestand. “... We’re not going to lose 100 games. That’s something we’re all motivated not to do.”

Manager Dale Sveum has talked about the looming triple-digit figure and has done his best to not make it a concern.

“Obviously it's a number that people dwell on, but the fact of the matter is that we have to focus each day,” Sveum said. “You’re not really worried about, ‘Are we going to finish with 99 or are we going to finish with 100?’ Whatever.”

Sveum prefers to boil things down to more manageable goals, but clearly that isn’t working either as the Cubs have given up 12 home runs in two games to see their record fall to 51-85.

“We have to go out every night and put together a good ballgame because we have to play really good baseball to win baseball games right now because we’re not capable of putting the offense that they put together,” Sveum said. “Right now we’re focused on winning a baseball game every night and not worried about 100 losses.”

It wouldn’t even take a .500 record the rest of the way to avoid the century mark, but to get there a number of young players are going to have to make serious strides. Many of the players on the roster now wouldn’t be anywhere near the major leagues if the Cubs weren’t in a rebuilding mode.

“It’s probably safe to say that there is no question about it,” Sveum said. “If you’re in the same situation as the Nationals are in we wouldn’t be developing at the big-league level. So right now things aren’t going as well for the young guys.

“(Welington) Castillo is holding his own catching, but things aren’t going well for the rest of the young guys right now so hopefully we make a few adjustments. They are going to get chances. We have (26) games left and hopefully we see major development where you can say these guys will be fighting for jobs in spring training.”