By Richard Kagan
The All-Star Game has come and gone. Since then, in the past 20 games, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras has played like an All-Star. He wasn’t named to the squad, but the if the game were held this week, he would be on the team.
Simply put, Contreras has been the main cog in the Cubs offense in recent weeks. Sometimes it has sputtered, sometimes it has been great, looking back at the game when the Cubs scored 16 runs and had 17 hits. Since the All-Star break, Contreras has hit .346 with 10 HR’s, and 29 RBI’s. He’s hit five home runs in the last four games of the Cubs latest home stand, where the team was 2-4 against playoff caliber competition. In the Cubs loss to Washington this past Sunday, Contreras hit two home runs to make it 21 for the season.
The other day, Cubs manager Joe Maddon started newcomer Alex Avila as catcher. Avila came over from Detroit. Contreras got the nod to start in left field. Maddon said, he wanted Contreras in the game because his bat was generating hits.
The Cubs lost to the Nationals 9-4 on Sunday due to a rare meltdown by the bull pen. The Cubs had a 4-1 lead and coughed it up when Washington scored 5 times in the 8th inning to put the game on ice.
The Cubs have been leading the Division by 2.5 games but now the lead has shrunk to a half-game. Now, the team flies out to San Francisco, the scene of last years’ dramatic win in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants are last in their Division and look like a different team now. Wins are hard to come by. Historically, the Cubs have not fared that well in the city by the Bay. But it needs to fare well in this series.
Jake Arrieta starts for Cubs and leads the team with ten wins. Lately, he has showed signs of his amazing run back in 2015 when he won the NL Cy Young Award. Arrieta is a free-agent at the end of the season and he is pitching like he has something to prove. That he didn’t just have a season to remember for Chicago a few years ago. He can still bring it.
Jake, the Cubs need you to come through.