Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant could put the team over the top in September

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Winners of four straight contests, the Chicago Cubs could soon get a huge boost when former NL MVP Kris Bryant returns to the middle of the lineup.

As the Chicago Cubs seek a four-game series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field, the offense seems to have found its stride. It’s lined up largely with the addition of Daniel Murphy atop the order, but an already deep lineup could improve further in the very near future.

Kris Bryant continues to work back from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for all but six games of the second half. The former Rookie of the Year and National League MVP will begin his rehab assignment Monday – the final steps in his recovery.

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Even before hitting the shelf, the injury sapped him of his power stroke. But, due to some mechanical tweaks and strengthening of the shoulder, he expects to be back wreaking havoc against opposing hurlers soon.

"“I honestly think I feel even better,” Bryant said. “I’ve got to bring the contact point a little further back in my swing, and I feel like I’m hitting balls further. I feel like before I was only really hitting the ball with one, one and a half hands connected to the bat, and now I feel like I’m using two hands. I think this will be pretty good for me.”"

It’s not that Bryant left a hole in the lineup before the injury. In the first half, he still put up an .867 OPS. But if he can come back with the power we’ve come to expect from the former first rounder, the Cubs lineup immediately ranks as the best in the league.

A lineup with no weak spots

You’re talking about a top-to-bottom look that features Murphy, National League MVP candidate Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. That’s not to mention guys like David Bote, who have stepped up to pick up the slack in Bryant’s absence.

Instead of his one-handed follow-through, the team has been working with Bryant on a two-handed swing, in hopes of lessening the stress on his injured shoulder. At least, so far, he feels its added even more power to his swing – which, again, would bode well.

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Chicago enters Sunday’s finale four games up in the division – with a chance to extend it further against the Reds. With the offense firing on all cylinders, the thought of Kris Bryant back in the mix may once again make the Chicago Cubs the toast of the National League.