By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Cubs are on a six game win streak. They defeated Noah Syndergaard, the hard throwing right hander of the NY Mets, 7-4. The Cubs are now 24 games above the .500 mark, the highest they’ve been this season. They lead the St. Louis Cards by 4.5 games. They lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 5 games, with six games in the loss column.
Why then is this Cubs fan a little skeptical that they will continue to play well?
This season the Cubs have had their ruts and then they come out of it. Recently, the Cubs scored just one run a game in five straight games. The Cubs went 2-3 in that stretch due to the excellent starts from two pitchers. I want to see this team play well. It’s just that they are streaky.
The Cubs have been able to withstand the loss of Kris Bryant, due to a sore shoulder muscle for a month, and also the absense of Brandon Morrow, the team’s closer, with arm issues. Bryant is at Iowa, working his way back to the Big Club. Morrow, his return is still undetermined. It is important that the Cubs get Morrow back. Chicago has been able to close out games with Pedro Strop, filling in for Morrow. But last night, manager Joe Maddon came out and had the quick hook for Strop in probably what was his shortest appearance of the season. Twitter users were using the expletives freely and then gave Maddon a pat on the back as he pulled Strop from the game. Reliever Jessie Chavez then came on and got the needed outs to end the game.
It is good that Maddon had Chavez to go to. He has been effective since he came over from Texas. Speaking of effective, how about the job that Cole Hamels has done in his brief time with the Cubs? He has provided length and stability to the starting pitchers. He tossed a complete game in his last start with the Cubs, the first such outing for the Cubs all season. He is 4-0 with an ERA under 1.00 in very effective work. When he was with the Phillies back in 2015 he no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Now, he wears the Cubs uniform as he attempts to get to the post-season. He was a terrific pick-up for the team and has made the starting pitching much stronger. He is a pitcher now and doesn’t blow batters away. But he can KO a hitter if they aren’t awake in the batters box.
Then there is Anthony Rizzo, who was just named NL player of the week for the week just passed. He hit a round-tripper last night and now has 22 for the season. He is on track to reach 100 rbi’s if he gets the opportunity to drive runners in. And, that he does almost automatically. Javy Baez has put up the gaudy numbers, almost reach 100 rbi’s with 97 driven up. He is on track to hit over 30 HR’s this campaign. But Rizzo has quietly put up some strong power numbers and has raised his average to .276, a far cry from the frozen climes of early Spring. Rizzo has gotten the job done as lead-off batter and from his customary third spot in the lineup.
Chicago is looking better than they did in their last road trip to Pittsburgh. After this homestand ends, they will hit the road for a lengthy road trip.
You never know with this team, you just have to hope for the best. So far, the Cubs are looking darn good.