The Chicago Cubs went into the All-Star break without winning a series in almost a month. With a star-studded team like the Cubs, you wouldn’t have thought the first half of the season would end like that. Luckily, the rest of the Central Division didn’t play very well either.
With Yu Darvish trying to find his command (https://www.cubsinsider.com/2019/07/12/yu-darvish-has-mlbs-worst-command-according-to-one-stat/), Kyle Schwarber in a continual slump, losing Tommy LaStella in the off-season to the Angels, the absence of the 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, and last but not least, a lack-luster bullpen, the Cubs are still in 1st place. Just like the playoffs, the second half of the season is a season of its own. And boy, are the Cubs HOT. Yes, they are just two games in on 2nd half but have won their first series coming out of the All-Star Break.
Yu Darvish has been pitching quite well of late with fewer walks and more strikeouts. Despite his record showing a not so pretty 2-4, his last 5 starts have been a little relieving. His walk/strikeout ratio is much better and has stayed in the game through the 5th inning 4 out of 5 games. Before entering into the second half, Yu had stated that, “Now I feel 100 percent, or more than that, best in my career.” And he backed that up with a stat line against the pesky Pittsburg Pirates, with 6 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, and a magical 8k. Let’s hope he stays Hot!
The Cubs really need all 5 starters to ramp up their performance and quality starts if they want a shot at the playoffs, let alone another World Series. With leaders like Big Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, getting quality starts from Quintana, Darvish and The Professor will only help them go deeper into the playoffs. The Cubs should also go after another reliever, most importantly a lefty, a lot of people like Will Smith, lets see if we can get him. Who are you willing to trade for him?
The Cubs offense has been powerful throughout the season and unstoppable at times but they have also been silenced a lot more than usual, especially with RISP! With KB and Heyward being some of the best offensive players this year behind Baez along with Rizzo, everyone else needs to step up. Rizzo is going into the 2nd half without a multi-RBI game since June 20 against the blundering Mets and hasn’t had a HR since June 15th against the NL Leading Dodgers. If Rizzo can become Bryzzo, the two-headed monster from the 2016 Champs along with newly called-up Robel Garcia (who should remain the everyday second baseman imo) the Cubs have a lineup that no one wants to face. I still believe that the Cubs need only two more things to make this team better than the 2016 Champs, a lead-off hitter (Garcia?) and Zobrist…..or someone like him because Descalso is not the answer.
The Chicago Cubs on paper have arguably the best team in baseball, let’s hope they can play like everyone thought they would play like at the beginning of the season; Champions with a point to prove. With their World Series odds being +700, top 4 in the league and the 2nd best odds in the NL, we have a Hot start to the second half but a lot of baseball to be played. In the words of the great Joe Maddon, “Try Not to Suck!”
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