The 2017 #MLB baseball season is just a little over a month old, and the defending champion #Chicago Cubs have yet to meet their pre-season expectations. Going into Tuesday with an 18-19 record and sitting fourth in the NL Central, this is certainly not what many thought would happen to a team that won 103 games and the World Series last year -- with most of the team still intact. While the Cubs have a long way to go, they are looking for answers.

Nothing seems to be going right

When the casual person asks, "What is wrong with the Cubs?" frankly, all aspects of play have not been good -- the hitting, the pitching, and the defense.

On paper the Cubs are way above average in all aspects, which is why their young corps has already had success. Notable players like Kyle Shwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Addison Russel, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Ben Zobrist and Jon Lester have all been inconsistent/flat-out bad so far this year.

The hitting

The Cubs are a team that pride themselves on a lineup that has no holes and is filled from top-to-bottom with all-star talent. So far, the overall offensive numbers do not show that. Note: the following stats are through 5/15/17. So far, the Cubs are middle-of-the-road or below average in key offensive rankings:

  • Runs Scored: 172 (13th)
  • Batting Average: .236 (24th)
  • On-Base Percentage: .324 (16th)
  • On-Base + Slugging: .715 (22nd)

The pitching

Last season the Cubs had the best collective Earned Runs Average in baseball at 3.15.

This year so far is a bit different. While the back end of their bullpen has been really good, their starting pitching has been very inconsistent and has given up 39 first-inning runs this season. Here are the numbers for the starting rotation and bullpen.

  • Starter ERA: 4.47 (20th) - Bullpen ERA: 2.90 (4th)
  • Starter Innings Pitched: 201.1 (24th) - Bullpen Innings Pitched: 139.2 (5th)
  • Starter WHIP (Walks-Hits in Innings Pitched): 1.42 (25th) - Bullpen WHIP: 1.18 (7th)

The defense

After having a historically good defense last year with 82 defensive runs saved, and an Ultimate Zone Rating of 73.0, this year their Ultimate Zone Rating is 0.8 so far, and they are 3rd in the league in errors with 30.

Slumps with the bats happen, and sometimes pitching falls victim to perfectly batted balls, but defense like this is inexcusable, especially given the current roster.

Panic tie? Not yet

As frustrating as this is, baseball is a long, 162-game season full of ups and downs. Last year's team started 26-6 and that was due to a very weak schedule and an historic hot start that is nearly impossible to replicate.

Obviously things have to get better and the players have to step up. Players like Miguel Montero suggested to Cubs ESPN beat writer Jesse Rogers that their mentality is not fully there after winning the World Series.

The Cubs embark on a long string of home games vs. the Reds, Brewers and Giants. With warm weather coming to Wrigley Field, this is the perfect time for the offense to wake up. While a lot is going on in sports right now with the NBA and NHL playoffs, the Cubs are certainly getting a lot of attention right now.