Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Turns out I was wrong last Cubs post. We WEREN'T ready for an okay Cubs team, so they decided to be pretty good again.
Those Cubs are 19-13, in second place in the NL Central, and, at the time of writing this, a half-game behind those dastardly St. Louis Cardinals. How did they do it? Well...they timed their come-up at the same time the Cardinals did, have had a better 10-game track record than the Cards, and are playing the Marlins this week while the Cards have to play the tougher-to-beat Phillies.
The Cubs could be topping the division once again if things keep accelerating at this rate...which is a very nice outcome.
The Cubs have adopted the fact that they're no longer going to be the biggest, baddest team in baseball anymore. They did the whole 'overpowered' thing for a year, it worked, and they decided to just go back to being good, likable, and slightly underdog-esque. And part of that identity-change has been thanks to the emphasis on more fringe players like Daniel Descalso, David Bote, Ben Zobrist and Brad Brach, while also retaining league greats like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Cole Hamels.
Also, there's room for some of the lesser figures to have come-ups, which is always a good strategy. Willson Contreras is having his best season to date right now, already notching a 1.9 WAR. Kyle Hendricks had a Maddux-esque performance last week, and solidified his status as a low-key fireballer. Jose Quintana's having his best numbers since playing for the South Side. And Jason Heyward is having another solid, if less showy, season.
Look, I haven't seen Rizzo, Lester, Bryant and Baez all simultaneously playing this well since...well, since 2016. I don't wanna get any hopes up, but maybe staying mostly put this offseason was a successful strategy for the Cubs.
Maybe they're gonna be a major player in the NL after all this season. And I'd love if that were the case.
Coming Tonight: Okay, his team has lost a few more games. But he can still mash like he did in April.