Chicago Cubs: This is the team we all expected to see this season

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

After a strong showings in Colorado and Cleveland and back-to-back one-run wins against Milwaukee, the 2018 Chicago Cubs are coming to life.

Despite not picking up a win after a lights-out showing against the Brewers Friday, Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish showed just what this rotation – and this team – is capable of.

Following hot on the heels of a masterful outing from Kyle Hendricks and a quality start from Jon Lester, the right-hander turned in six runs of solid work, allowing just an unearned run in front of the home faithful. The bullpen failed to hold the lead, before recapturing and closing the door for good – but there was a lot to like about the Cubs’ latest showing.

Despite scoring a grand total of four runs over the last two games, Chicago found a way to win. The pitching staff stepped up to pick up the offense, which went just 3-for-12 in the win Friday. The only bright spots? RBI singles from Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Oh, and the fact that Baez and Albert Almora extended their respective hitting streaks to 10 games apiece.

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It might not seem like much. Even with the back-to-back wins, Chicago is just three games over .500. And that’s a first for the 2018 Cubs. But teams – especially young ones – can learn a lot in these April contests, where baseball seems like a grind. Weather doesn’t cooperate and you’re still finding your groove.

Repeating 2017 not a bad thing

Last season, the Cubs went 13-11 in April. That seems to be about what this year’s club is destined for. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

While the offense finds its groove (namely Rizzo), this team can play slightly above-average ball. The problem last year was a 13-15 month of May. That, with this rotation and position player core – would be simply unacceptable.

But come September, when the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers are all clawing for a division title and a shot at October glory, it’s these games that make a difference. Two weeks ago, the Cubs rolled over and let the Braves manhandle them at Wrigley. If not for their improbable late rally on that Saturday, Atlanta would’ve left Chicago feeling pretty good.

Next: Darvish leads Cubs to big win over Milwaukee

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

What a difference those two weeks made. This Cubs team seems gritty, hungry and ready to prove that they aren’t resting on the laurels of 2016. That was then. This is now. And the 2018 Chicago Cubs are here to not only win a division – but turn a good run into a dynastic one.