As the temperatures heat up the Chicago Cubs face a daunting schedule in the month of June. A large rash of road games centered by just two days off the entire stretch and the early stages of the summer will test the health and longevity of the defending champs.
The theme of June will seem more like Groundhog Day. The Chicago Cubs will only enjoy two days off the entire time and will get awfully used to playing night games. That might not be the worst luck given how the summer heat can drain you.
Cubs fans will begin the month at home after a trip to the west coast. Chicago will then welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to Wrigley Field for a marquee weekend set. The most notable storyline that weekend will be the return of Dexter Fowler.
Fowler, who was one of many heroes in the quest for a World Series last year, signed a long-term deal to fill the center field void for the Redbirds. There is no doubt that the weekend, and Friday especially, will be an emotional time for both Fowler and the Cubs.
Following the weekend grind, the Cubs will continue their homestand with three games against the Miami Marlins and four games against the Rockies.
Frequent Flyer Miles
Traditionally speaking, professional sports teams have claimed that the best medicine and motivator is a road trip. Road trips provide the team time together away from the distractions of home life and the home crowd. Traveling is a time for players to bond and learn to fight for one another.
If by some chance the Cubs enter June with a rash of injuries or sub-par efforts, perhaps the June schedule is exactly what the doctor ordered. After completing the 10-game stretch at home, the Cubs will embark on an odyssey that will keep them from the Windy City for quite some time.
Chicago will play 15 of their next 18 games away from Wrigley Field. The New York Mets roll out the red carpet beginning on June 12. Following the off-day on that Thursday, the Cubs head to Pittsburgh for a weekend set with the Pirates. In addition to the Pirates series, the Cubs know that winning divisional games is a must. June doesn’t offer many of those opportunities. The Cubs must capitalize on the chances they have if they hope to build a lead in the standings.
The Northsiders will return to Wrigley for a quick showdown with San Diego before heading to the airport yet again.
A test for the legs of the Cubs
June’s gauntlet will take the Cubs to Miami for four and Washington for three. The four-game set in South Beach falls into the ‘winnable’ category, to be sure. But seven games against Miami and the following three against Bryce Harper and the Nats could prove troublesome unless Joe Maddon plans ahead.
All in, June offers 28 games in 30 days. Headlined by 15 road games, the Cubs will play 13 of them at night. The Cubs will play seven games against the National League Central and will visit two time zones. Honestly, the month represents what could be a big hurdle for the reigning World Series champions.
The Chicago Cubs enjoyed near-perfect health in 2016. By the time June 2017 rolls around, we’ll know if the same is in store for the dog days of summer.