With St. Louis in first place in the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to gain some ground in the standings. Before the season, many thought it’d be the other way around.
The Chicago Cubs enter their series against the rival St. Louis Cardinals in an unexpected situation. Sitting at 17-17, they’re currently 4th in the division and looking up at the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and the Cardinals as mentioned earlier.
Those that looked ahead at the schedule before the season started probably assumed that the Cubs would have a comfortable lead in the division at this point, however, the reality is they’re struggling to gain footing.
Not a surprise
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Though the Cardinals’ first-place lead isn’t too surprising – they’re a well-run, veteran team – it seems a little shocking that after all the Cubs have accomplished recently, they still have to catch up to their bitter rivals while the latter’s ‘supposed’ to be in a transition year.
The Cards lost key veteran Matt Holliday in the offseason to the Yankees and top pitching prospect Alex Reyes to Tommy John Surgery. While they added former Cub Dexter Fowler to the mix, they also have a collection of young-ish position players (Randal Grichuk, Kolten Wong) who haven’t yet taken that next step.
Chasing the Cards…again
There they are, leading the division and are arguably the hottest team in baseball, having won seven of their last eight.
The great thing about a rivalry is that no matter what the circumstances surrounding the contest, there’s always the sense of urgency. The team NEEDS to beat the other. No exceptions.
One team could be 20 games ahead of the other, and it wouldn’t matter. If you lose, it’s always going to feel worse than losing to just any other team.
While on the surface it looks as if the Cubs have a significantly better team, you know how the adage goes in baseball: anybody can beat anybody on any given day. And seeing as how the Cardinals are playing great ball, it’s even more pertinent that the Cubs perform well, not just to save face against their rivals but to help get their disappointing season back on track.
This will be a very interesting series for many reasons. Of course, the flashiest will be can the Cubs get it going again against their mortal enemies? Or will the surging Cardinals put the North Siders under .500 for the first time since Opening Day, which was the first time since April 10, 2015?
It’ll be interesting for sure. But most of all it’ll be must-see TV once again.