The Chicago Cubs are looking for key players to step up in the final stretch. As usual, some players have been good while others have struggled badly.
An extremely important series is coming up for the Chicago Cubs against the second-place Milwaukee Brewers who are breathing down their necks. What seemed like a comfortable four-game lead last week is now down to one going into Tuesday’s game. If the Brewers sweep, they will be in first. The Cubs have to win one to guarantee staying in first after this series.
Heading into this series, there were some key players that hope to say hot while there are others who want to pick it up a bit. Since this is such a big series they want everything working: offense, starting pitching, relief pitching and defense. There have been ups and downs in all areas.
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This is a difficult time for the team considering they are in that stretch of 23 days with no time off, and now have to play a makeup game in Washington on their off-day this week. They did not play any baseball Sunday due to the weather, but they stuck around the park for a while and traveled back later. Hopefully they are refreshed and ready to go against Milwaukee.
(Note: These stats are updated entering Monday night’s series opener against Milwaukee).
Who is hot?
Anthony Rizzo – .389/.500/.611 with a 1.111 OPS and no strikeouts the last six games
The veteran first baseman has been very good the past few weeks. He is at the point where he has “evened” out his stats to around his normal season lines. Rizzo has been incredibly streaky in 2018, but when he on a good streak, he is very good.
Ben Zobrist – .375 average, four RBI and six hits in last six games
He continues to be the most “professional” hitter on the squad. Good atbats and ability to put the ball in play in run-scoring situations. While he has not walked in his last six, he is still getting on base via hits.
Pedro Strop – 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, one save in last week
There may have been a bit of a scare in the finale against the Brewers in Milwaukee, but Pedro locked down a huge save. Sample size is not big, but him pitching well while the pen has gone on a cold run has been big.
Who is not?
Javier Baez – .182/.182/.227 with 11 strikeouts an zero home runs or RBI in last six games
Hard to believe, but El Mago has actually been pretty cold the past week. He has scored some crazy runs against the Brewers and continues to make highlight reel plays with the glove, but he is in a little slump at the plate. Hard to imagine it lasting.
Willson Contreras – .143/.200/.143 in last six games
This is a little more concerning. Contreras has been cold the entire second half after being an All-Star. He is not lifting the ball at all and almost everything is weakly on the ground. He has had to work hard, which makes one wonder if there is some fatigue or something physical hurting him.
Carl Edwards Jr. – 6.75 ERA, 5.25 WHIP, .429 avg. against, four walks vs. three strikeouts in 1.1 IP
It has been a rough go for Edwards recently. The command is way off again, and when it is in the zone the hitters are barreling it up and not missing. We saw similar issues last year around this time with him. Hopefully he can bounce back to his dominant self again.
Steve Cishek – 13.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .333 avg. against in 2.0 IP
The side-winder has worked so hard this year, piling up innings. He has been super effective but recently has slipped up. He gave up a walk-off home run in Philly last week and has continued to struggle since. May be safe to say he needs some time off because he is a little burned out.
Getting these guys right may very well determine whether or not the Cubs see postseason baseball. At the very least, their contributions – or lack thereof – could be the difference between a division title and a one-game wild card fate.