The Chicago Cubs came out of the MLB All-Star break and won two in a row against the Texas Rangers. It appeared that they had their struggles fixed and that they would get back to their winning ways. Unfortunately, that has not been the case since those two important and convincing victories.
Joe Maddon’s team lost the series finale to the Rangers and proceeded to beat the New York Mets 5-1 in their series opening, but they lost in embarrassing fashion last night. Chicago lost by a final score of 2-1 after a solid Jake Arrieta start, but the way the game ended left Cubs fans shaking their heads and expecting the worst moving forward.
Despite having one of the most talented offensive lineups in baseball, the Cubs have had issues plating runners in scoring position. That issue became obvious in the bottom of the 9th inning when the Cubs had the bases loaded and no one out. Matt Sczczur proceeded to have a sub-par at-bat, and Kris Bryant came up and promptly grounded into a double play to end the game.
Chicago fans are used to the Cubs choking and struggling after promising starts. There is a reason that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Even though their team is struggling now, there is no reason to expect the struggles to continue and end their World Series chances.
What five reasons can be given to support the statement that the Chicago Cubs should still be considered the favorites to win the World Series and end their curse?
Take a Look at Their Overall Record
Even though the Cubs have gone through a bit of a struggling period, the Cubs are still leading the NL Central with a record of 56-37. That record is among the best in baseball and the Cubs are being talked about as a team that is choking. It seems to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at this point in time.
Jake Arrieta Came Out of the All-Star Break Looking Like Himself
Jake Arrieta started last night’s game against the Mets and finished the game looking like himself. He pitched 7.0 innings in the game and gave up just five hits, one earned run, and a walk, but he also struck out eight. If Arrieta can get himself back on track, there is nothing holding the Cubs back from making a serious run.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) July 20, 2016
Young Talent Continuing to Emerge in the Lineup
There are very few teams that have had the amount of young talent contributing to a successful team like the Cubs have. Wilson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and even Kris Bryant are all learning on the go. It is difficult for young players to play perfect baseball, and sometimes there will be problems like the Cubs have experience offensively over the past month.
Theo Epstein Still Has Time Before the Trade Deadline
Approaching the trade deadline, there are plenty of potential trade candidates that the Cubs could look at. Andrew Marchand of ESPN reported that the New York Yankees could trade Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman in a deal that netted them Dan Vogelbach. Chicago could look at another bat or starting pitcher as well, but there is plenty of room for improvements ahead of the deadline via trade.
Yankees could target Cubs' Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach in a deal for either Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 18, 2016
Every Team Has Ups and Downs Throughout a Season
Finishing up why the Cubs shouldn’t be too worried about this stretch of games, every team goes through ups and downs throughout an MLB season. We are only a few games after the All-Star break. It is too early to begin freaking out, and the Cubs have plenty of time to find their stride.
Expect to see the Cubs bounce back in the next few weeks. They haven’t gotten off to a bad start to the second half of the season, although they have to figure out how to get their offense back on track.
Do you think the Chicago Cubs should still be considered favorites to win the World Series? Are they still the best team in the National League despite their recent skid? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP Images]