The Chicago Cubs currently sit one game behind the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers with a record of 32-26.
After a boring weekend in St. Louis where nothing went right for the Chicago Cubs, they insert themselves back in the win column with an 8-1 victory over the lowly Los Angeles Angels Monday. While it was just the Angels (29-31), the Cubs offense got a surge of confidence heading into a critical series with Colorado starting tonight.
It is only June 4, but the Cubs schedule is not easy this month. The Rockies have won eight straight contests coming into this series. The Cubs then look to avenge their series sweep from the hands of St. Louis this weekend to wrap up their homestand.
Next week they travel to Colorado and then to Los Angeles. Their last homestand of the month is against the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. They end the month with a three-game series in Cincinnati.
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The White Sox (29-30) have won six of their last seven games, and the Braves (32-27) are only a half-game back of the NL East lead. They also swept the Cubs in their series in Atlanta. The Mets (28-31) are 13-22 on the road, but as long as they have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in their rotation, they’re a tough beat.
Right now from the looks of how the Cubs have been playing, there are no easy wins, aside from Monday’s trumping of the Angels. The team is 5-9 since May 20, losing three straight series in the process. As bad as things may seem, the Cubs could play .500 ball and likely still be in the mix in the NL Central race.
The Reds are 27-32 and sit just 6 1/2 games back. The Cardinals went 9-18 in May, but after sweeping the Cubs over the weekend, the Redbirds sit only three games back in the division race.
One reason the Cubs are struggling right now is Javier Baez and Willson Contreras‘ slumping offensively. The Cubs need Baez and Contreras to return to early season form if they plan to win the NL Central.
Since his heel injury in Washington on May 19, Baez has a .227/.292/.477 slash line. Before that, it was .319/.359/.595. Contreras isn’t injured but has been slumping, too. Since May 19 his slash line is .184/.295/.342.
They both hit home runs Monday, which is a good sign after this rough stretch at the plate. The Cubs also will insert a vital piece back into their bullpen either today or Wednesday as closer Pedro Strop returns from the injured list.
He’s not Craig Kimbrel, but this allows Joe Maddon to move the rest of his bullpen back into their perspective roles. Hopefully, the Cubs are turning the corner or this could down spiral fast.