For the final time this season, the Chicago Cubs will host Milwaukee in a weekend series as they desperately cling to a postseason berth.
August hasn’t gone as we had hoped as the Chicago Cubs watched their first-place division lead turn to dust. Now, sitting a couple of games behind St. Louis, September is beginning to open its eyes as key division showdowns highlight the month.
Following a brief New York road trip, Milwaukee visits the Friendly Confines in what will stretch from Friday thru Tuesday, September 2 against Seattle. An opportunity for this organization to either match the Cardinals or regain their division lead.
From here on out, division games should be considered must-win. With that said, all eyes will be on Cincinnati and St. Louis who meet up in Cardinals territory.
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Hopefully, the Reds accept their role as a postseason spoiler, making it difficult for St. Lous but easy on our boys. Having the Cardinals drop at least two of three would be ideal.
In order for things to move in the right direction, Chicago needs to loosen up and dig deep, finding that groove to catapult them into October.
But with that said, who exactly needs to step up for their postseason berth to come to fruition? Nicholas Castellanos can’t do everything himself despite his massive offensive production since joining the Cubs last month.
Brothers in arms
While the offense hasn’t necessarily been an issue as of late, you can’t help but wonder what is happening within this pitching staff. This weekend doesn’t solely depend on one person but as a unit in general, considering how things have gone thus far.
It does not begin nor end with the bullpen either. Aside from Yu Darvish‘s spectacular eight-inning outing on Tuesday, the rest of this rotation carried a record of 5-7 over their previous seven appearances combined.
Noting that’s seven starts a piece for Cole Hamels, Jon Lester (starts Thursday vs. Mets), Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks was issued a no-decision despite having an early 10-1 on Wednesday.
A five-run fifth inning — which brought New York within four — put a cap on the professor’s night after 4 2/3 frames. So, other than the bullpen needing to step it up this weekend, Joe Maddon‘s starting rotation really needs to set the tone early and often.
Control the plate and prevent Christian Yelich or those who follow suit to get a rally started. Once their bats are on fire, it’s difficult to put them out. That should be the key to this weekend series.
Don’t expect the third-place Milwaukee Brewers to roll over and allow Chicago to take the series. Starting with whoever takes the bump in the first frame to Craig Kimbrel closing it out in the ninth or extras — each and every member of this pitching staff needs to bring their best.
If not then it’s going to be difficult keeping up with a red-hot Cardinals team who managed to find their old winning ways during the second half of the campaign.