Chicago Cubs: With Anthony Rizzo activated, team welcomes in Cardinals

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Heading into the Series: Chicago Cubs

Record: 7-7, 4th in National League Central

Record (Last 10): 5-5

ERA: 3.89 (10th in NL)

OBP: .332 (5th in NL)

Team HR: 15 (T-10th in NL)

Team Leader – WAR: Kris Bryant1.0 (Fangraphs)

Cubs desperately need consistent results

On both sides of the diamond, the Chicago Cubs haven’t looked like a World Series contender. Sloppy defense, shoddy pitching and an offense that either flails helplessly or throttles opponents leaves us all with more questions than answers.

The one constant throughout the first three weeks of 2018? Third baseman Kris Bryant. The 2015 NL MVP is on a tear to start the season, putting up a 199 wRC+. He’s struck out fewer times than he’s walked and could be on the path to another career year.

Javier Baez, meanwhile, epitomizes this team’s offense, as a whole. He ranks near the league leaders with 14 runs batted in. That’s all fine and dandy. He even had back-to-back two-homer games last week to kick off the homestand. But even with these big performances, he carries a dismal .191/.309/.574 slash-line into this series.

For Chicago, it all comes down to putting consistent at-bats together from top to bottom. Ben Zobrist is one of the best professional hitters in baseball. After his down year in 2017, he’s proving he’s got plenty left in the tank early in 2018.

But it can’t be just Zobrist and Bryant hitting. A healthy Anthony Rizzo could be a huge key – but, if past performance is any indication, he won’t really hit his stride until late May or early June. If he finds his stroke early though, watch out.