2018 has been an up and down year for the cubs. Their best acquisition of the offseason Yu Darvish has split his time between the disabled list and being ineffective on the mound. Rotation anchor Kyle Hendricks admitted in a press conference a week ago that “something is definitely off” about his game. Each of the Cubs position players has seemingly taken his turn with the cold bat, and the team as a whole can’t find the middle ground between home run derby and shutout. One of the best visual representations of how cubs fans have felt this season came yesterday when outfielder Jason Heyward had to leave the game after hitting a foul ball into his own groin. Despite all the hard luck and mishaps; the cubs have won 6 of their last 7.
Since the last day of May, the Cubs have been playing heart-stopping baseball. The highs show promise of another deep postseason run, and the lows remind fans of the last twenty years of mediocrity. The worst has come against NL central cellar dwellers the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs posted a 1-5 mark against the Reds in that time frame, getting swept once and playing a rubber game of a three game series on Sunday. Despite their ineptitude in Cincinnati, the Cubs have won 20 of their games since May 31st, only losing two series to the Reds and the Brewers respectively.
The Cubs boom or bust offense was in full display on a road trip to Minnesota, where they swept the twins. More impressively, the Cubs outscored their opponents 35-25 in a power surge weekend. If Chicago’s bats can come out like that every outing there isn’t a starting rotation anywhere that is safe.
Those 35 runs came in the middle of a stretch where the Cubs have won 6 of their last 7 looking to regain ownership of the top spot in the NL central. They currently hold the top wild card spot, but everyone on the North side of Chicago would sleep much easier knowing they had the division locked up.
With all the drama surrounding the starting rotation, it’s nice to know that Jon Lester hasn’t lost his edge. In his last 7 games started, he has won the decision in 6 (and one no decision), kept his ERA low at 2.08, won Pitcher of the Month for June in the national league, and hit his second career home run, a three run blast to start the scoring in Minnesota. Lester has led this rotation since he joined the team in 2015, and he might be doing it now better than ever.
The roller coaster ride doesn’t just apply to series the Cubs have played, many times applies to individual games as well. Saturday looked to be another disappointing loss to Cincinnati until the Cubs bats woke up to post 4 runs in the 8th inning to seal the deal. That was far from the only come from behind win, leading some fans to resurrect the old “Cardiac Cubs” monicker.
Veteran manager Joe Maddon is perhaps one of the best managers in baseball. If anyone can smooth out the lows and maintain the highs, it very well could be him. He has the faith of the city of Chicago, and more importantly the players in his clubhouse. Look for the Cubs to figure out how to piece it all together and make another run to the National League Championship Series this fall.