The 2018 season rapidly approaches its final month. Will the Chicago Cubs be able to maintain their division lead behind strong pitching performances?
Despite suffering three shutout losses in their last four matchups with the Milwaukee Brewers, things look great for the Chicago Cubs. They enter Friday 3 1/2 games up on their division rival after receiving a gem courtesy of left-hander Jon Lester.
Lester’s performance on the mound inspired the bullpen to step up, helping him earn his 13th win of the season. Per usual, Pedro Strop thrived in another save opportunity, taking advantage of Brandon Morrow‘s time on the disabled list.
Speaking of disabled lists, Yu Darvish hit the 60-day list not too long ago. Hopefully, he’ll be ready at some point during the postseason. Recent reports indicate he could be headed for a rehab start in coming days.
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For now, the team’s focus is set on winning the National League Central for the third season in a row. On top of that, another trip to the National League Championship Series in hopes of their second trip to the World Series in the last three years.
Recently-acquired veteran pitcher Cole Hamels gives them the opportunity and firepower they need to do just that. Backed by a young offensive and defensive lineup, Hamels compliments Joe Maddon‘s club perfectly.
Fresh, dominant start
Hamels, 34, is on the opposite side of the fence with Maddon. These two men were World Series foes in 2008, culminating in Hamels bringing a championship to the city of Philadelphia.
When one door closes, another opens. In this case, Hamels kicked down the door, hurling 18 innings, allowing two earned runs in three starts with the Cubs.
He carries a 2-0 record, 20:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 0.833 WHIP and a 1.00 earned run average into his fourth outing as a member of the North Siders. Do you remember who fell victim in his Cubs debut?
That’s right, the Pittsburgh Pirates in their own ballpark. Familiar territory for the southpaw who returns to where his fresh start with the Cubs recently began.
What to expect
Heading into tonight’s evening showdown, Chicago rides a two-game winning streak. Hamels and his red-hot stretch should provide a spark for this offense that provided nine runs of support on Aug. 1.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee takes on the second-half surprise St. Louis Cardinals on the road, so the Cubs need to take at least three of four from the Bucs.