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Chicago Cubs Weekly Review: All-Star edition

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Jake Arrieta slowly becoming staff ace – Arrieta didn’t ask to be the ace. But he’s never had an issue with being one. After the trade of Samardzija and Hammel, in the month of June, Arrieta had a 4-0 record, 0.92 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings, and he suddenly had assumed that role. Add to that six innings of perfect baseball followed by 7 2/3 no-hit baseball in the following contest and the title was his.

Arrieta has always had the talent, but had yet to put it together at the big league level. Control and consistency being the issue, as is often the case for pitchers. Now Arrieta has the confidence, and quite frankly the reputation as a top of the rotation pitcher.

A month really isn’t enough to chalk him up as a star, but another season like this and he’ll be commanding the type of contract Samardzija was, and the Cubs would be silly not to offer it.

The arrival of the future, just not who we thought (Arismendy Alcantara) – Show of hands, who thought this would be the first breakout star of the prospects the Cubs have been stockpiling? Nobody? Exactly. There’s no doubt that Alcantara’s numbers were worthy of a call-up. But it was that perfect storm that got him here. Darwin Barney has paternity leave, Cubs need a body to temporarily fill-in, Alcantara is the guy. Now he’s no Lou Gerhig, but Barney may be Wally Pipp.

The time for the future to begin in Chicago is now

In what was supposed to be a two-day promotion, Alcantara pretty much forced the issue with his performance to keep him up. Manager Rick Renteria had been pitcher-heavy most of the season, carrying a short bench. With the All-Star Break, the Cubs opted to keep him up, sending down two pitchers instead. Now, entering the second half, the Cubs will start their three remaining starters following the trade in the second half. This will postpone the decision on Alcantara likely till after the Cardinals series.

With a line of .391/.400/.739, an OPS of 1.139, six runs scored and five RBIs, the young man is going to make the Cubs brass think long and hard about keeping him up. I’ve been vocal as a fan of Barney. Great player, good teammate, hasn’t complained about his role change. But I’m ready to change stance. Alcantara looks solid in the field, clearly is more of an offensive threat, and when Emilio Bonifacio returns, he and Alcantara give a lot more options defensively.

The time for the future to begin in Chicago is now.

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