Heading into the All-Star Break after a shaky first half, the Chicago Cubs have a lot to be optimistic about heading into the second half atop the NL Central
It’s no question the Chicago Cubs had one of the most turbulent first halves of the season. Sitting at 47-43, they are riding a 10-15 stretch into the All-Star BReak, yet again plagued by inconsistency.
The good news about this rough stretch is that the rest of the division is doing just as poorly. Sitting in first place with the way this team has played is a gift. Sure, it may seem tough to watch at times, as we never know which team will show up on a given night, but we wanted to touch on three of the many reasons Cubs fans should be fired up about the second half.
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Maddon knows how to push second-half teams
Since Maddon stepped in as manager of this team, the Cubs have been the definition of a second-half team. Here are the second half records since 2015:
- 2015: 50-25
- 2016: 50-23
- 2017: 49-25
- 2018: 40-30
The Cubs flip it into another gear after the All-Star Break every single year, and the stage is set for them to do the same (fingers crossed) here in 2019.
This team will also have more motivation to do so in the form of Maddon. In the final year of his contract, Theo Epstein is doing a “year-long” evaluation to see whether or not the team should resign the manager. With the way the first half went, the veteran skipper could be coaching for his job, and there should be a fire lit under this team.
Kimbrel will round into mid-season form soon enough
The Cubs signed one of the most elite closers in all of baseball, and he is still working his way to mid-season form. Our own Bill Quinn wrote about this point, as we still haven’t seen Craig Kimbrel at his best.
Sure, the righty had been throwing all the way up to the point of his signing, but he wasn’t facing big-league pitching. We can consider his time so far as his ‘spring training,’ and each outing he gets himself closer to the pitcher the league knows him to be. With two saves under his belt so far, Kimbrel will be a huge key late in games for this team and should help win a lot of close ones.
Don’t sleep on Bryzzo
The souvenir company owners and X-factors of this Cubs team are both set up for big second halves. Anthony Rizzo is coming off a month of June in which he hit .232, helping add to the inconsistency of this club.
However, along with starting off July on the right note batting .302, Rizzo has his highest career batting average in the month of August (.282). We haven’t seen Anthony play his best baseball this season, and I think we are going to see it very soon.
Aside from Rizzo, Kris Bryant is returning to the guy we know and love. After notching his third All-Star appearance, the 2016 NL MVP has gotten off to a scorching hot start in July, batting .429. It’s been a slower march back from injury, but it seems as if the slugger has got his groove back, and is set to have a huge second half.
These are just a few of the many reasons Cubs fans should be optimistic about the season post All-Star break. Hopefully, they can come out firing once the break is over, and make Epstein reward them with a few trades at the end of this month’s deadline.