June is quickly approaching which means warmer weather but a familiar position for the Chicago Cubs. Thankfully, this club managed to surge their way past a promising Milwaukee Brewer organization. Can they do it again?
During the offseason, the Brewers added some much-needed power to their lineup by reeling in Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. For the Chicago Cubs, they knew it was going to make the hunt for a third-straight N.L. Central crown a lot tougher.
So, with May coming to a close, both teams are pretty much in the same position as they were a year ago today. Ahead of June 1st, the Cubs trailed in the division behind the first place Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.
In fact, standings up to this point of the year are nearly identical to 2017. All we need to do is hand Cincinnati five more wins and swap them with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Another surprise team during the first half.
That being the Pirates, of course. The Reds are finding themselves in a heavy rebuild situation, so not everyone was expecting them to make noise in 2018. Just don’t sleep on them for long.
Now, let’s continue. Last year, the Cubs hit multiple walls, especially when it came to their pitching rotation. Entering their first game of June against the Cardinals, Chicago tallied 240 runs while giving up just as many.
Not necessarily what us fans had imagined considering the massive differential between the two in 2016. An offensive showcase that led to their first World Series title in over 100 plus years.
Something seemed off.
Eye of the storm
Although Chicago’s record sat at .500 (40-40) at the end of June, they squeezed past the Cardinals (38-41) who then fell 3.5 games behind compared to their two. Meanwhile, Milwaukee maintained their first place reign of terror, starting July with 43 up and 39 down.
Similar to June, Joe Maddon‘s boys stayed behind Craig Counsel’s and slightly ahead of Mike Matheny‘s when comparing run differentials. They jumped from 240-240 to 365-353, just 29 less scored runs than the Brewers.
Still, the run differential between the two was 12 and 19. However, while standings may be similar, Chicago, for now, at least, (+77) hold the third highest run differential behind the Houston Astros (+126) and Boston Red Sox (+82).
In addition to the numbers listed above, this staff has allowed the least amount of runs in their division, yielding only 186. Surprising considering the patch of rough outings at the hands of multiple starting pitchers to begin the year.
History destined to repeat itself?
We are aware of where the Cubs stood once the second half of the season began. It led to yet another National League Central title and a third straight trip to the National League Championship Series.
Only this time, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally punched their ticket to the big series.
Despite a few issues to begin the campaign, again, the Cubs still have a solid shot at not only clinching the division but returning to the World Series. Sure, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood have had spotty starts, it’s just not always going to be like that.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer pieced together a team that has the talent and ability to compete. A team that will no longer serve as a punch line but a threat to erase leads both on the field and within their own division.