Chicago Cubs: Rallying behind two NL West reunions this week

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

With Carlos Gonzalez and Yu Darvish and set to face to their former teams this week, the Chicago Cubs can rally behind the stars in hopes for two huge series wins

Series by series and player by player, the Chicago Cubs are starting to look like a serious championship contender again. Coming off a massive week where they signed Craig Kimbrel, took two of three from the Colorado Rockies, and swept the St. Louis Cardinals (again), there’s a feel-good vibe going around that’s hard to describe.

Starting a new week tied atop the division with Milwaukee Brewers, things don’t get any easier. They will spend their week on the West Coast playing the Rockies and Dodgers in two-four game sets. These two series are particularly special for two of our newer Cubs, Carlos Gonzalez and Yu Darvish. However, as Gonzalez returns to Colorado and Darvish returns to Los Angeles, these reunions should be completely different from one another.

We should expect a heartfelt return for Gonzalez, and one with much uncertainty for Darvish. With these series already being huge for the Cubs, having a player to rally around in each should motivate the team even further to rise to the occasion and hopefully secure wins.

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With the Cubs opening the first four-game set Monday night in Colorado, Carlos Gonzalez is the first reunion in store. Gonzalez spent ten seasons in the Mile High City and is set to return for the very first time.

Through those ten seasons in Colorado, he slashed .290/.349/.516 with 227 home runs and 749 RBI Along with these numbers; he added three All-Star appearances, one batting title in 2009, two silver sluggers and three Gold Gloves. He was indeed a special player with the Rockies, which is why there will undoubtedly be some emotion tied to his return.

Since leaving, he’s played just 35 games combined between the Cubs and Cleveland Indians, batting just .215. Hopefully coming back to the city where he played his best baseball will help him unlock some of his former self.

The Rockies decided not to re-sign the lefty after the 2018 season, and they are showing that they are doing just fine without him. Gonzalez should arrive with emotion and motivation to help his new team do what it takes to take down his former club.

The next stop on the reunion tour will be Los Angeles, where Darvish will face the Dodgers. The Dodgers acquired Darvish as time expired during the 2017 trade deadline. They gave up three of their top-30 prospects to help land the righty in hopes to bolster their starting rotation for a championship push. Through his half season with the Dodgers, Darvish posted a 4-3 record with an ERA of 3.44. Solid numbers, and did what the Dodgers were asking of him.

However, he left a sour taste in the mouth’s of fans during the 2017 Fall Classic. In two World Series starts Darvish went 0-2, throwing a combined 3 1/3 innings and giving up nine runs. This included a controversial Game 7 start, which led to the Astros claiming the Fall Classic.

Dodgers fans forgot about the success Darvish had in the regular season, and they’ve had a negative outlook on the Japanese righty ever since. Heading back to Los Angeles in a new uniform, Darvish will most likely not be greeted warmly (if at all) and will have to lean on the support of his new teammates. He has an opportunity to prove not only he’s improved, but to help take down a team that is arguably the toughest test standing in the way of the Cubs and the World Series.

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The Cubs team as a whole has enough motivation already heading into these two series, as they are facing the two teams that have ended their last two seasons (2017 NLCS against the Dodgers, 2018 Wild Card against Colorado). However, having some additional drive in the form of Gonzalez and Darvish should help this team to be even more locked in. It’s going to be a challenging week on the road, but the Cubs have everything in place in terms of story-line to come out on top.