Maddon: Cubs' at-bats still quality amid slump

Skipper determined to keep scuffling Happ in lineup; Butler's return timetable due soon

May 2nd, 2018

CHICAGO -- Runs may be coming at a premium for the Cubs of late, but manager Joe Maddon won't fault his team's approach.

Entering Wednesday's game against the Rockies, the Cubs had tallied three or fewer runs over a seven-game stretch for the first time since 2015. But thanks to a pitching staff that has held opponents to three or fewer runs in six straight games for the first time since '17, the Cubs have managed to win five of those seven games.

While he certainly wouldn't complain about more offense, Maddon can live with the results. Over the past six games, the Cubs have scored 13 runs, which averages out to 2.17 runs per game. The Cubs have won six games this season in which they scored three runs or fewer, which is second in the Majors behind the Rockies, who have won seven such games.

"The at-bats have been good," Maddon said Wednesday. "We've seen some good pitching. I mean, that's part of it also. … It's not like we're just out there flailing at anything.

"[But] part of it is that we've won games because we've pitched better than good pitching. The runs are going to come, but we've been in a stretch where we've faced some pretty good guys."

What's Happ-ening?

As frustrated as may be with his offensive struggles, Maddon believes the best option is to play him as much as possible.

Happ, who was not in Wednesday's starting lineup, is hitting .236 with three homers and seven RBIs. But Happ, who has seen time this season in left field, center field, second base and third base, has just two hits in his previous 14 at-bats and went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Rockies.

Despite Happ's frustrations, Maddon has yet to see him drop his head.

"When a guy like him is struggling, he really needs to be out there more often than not," Maddon said. "So there's this balancing act going on right now. … I've just got to keep getting him out there as often as possible trying to find the right spots.

"I do believe when he gets out there, one of these games, he's going to click a couple and all of a sudden he's just going to take off after that."

Butler update

Maddon said relief pitcher Eddie Butler is doing well after being sidelined since April 20 with a right groin strain. Butler last pitched on April 19 against the Cardinals, when he allowed four runs (three earned) on two hits and two walks without retiring a hitter.

Maddon has received positive reports from the Cubs' training staff and said a plan mapping out Butler's return will be put together soon.