The Cubs were in a good spot to begin the second half of the season, but it felt like they should have been better.
45 Games (26-19) 1st Place NL Central
The .500 baseball from the past few weeks for the Cubs continued into the second half of the season. Thankfully, the same could be said about the other teams in the NL Central Division who struggled to get on a roll of their own.
Just when it seemed like the Cubs were ready to turn a corner, they took a step backward.
One span of games that was incredibly disappointing came against the Cardinals. Once again, the series played out in five games over the first weekend of September, and the Cubs had a chance to put serious distance between their rival.
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To no surprise, Yu Darvish made another case as the best pitcher in baseball in a 4-2 Cubs’ win to open the series, dropping his ERA to a season-low 1.44 following this start: 7 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 11 SO.
The Cubs failed to capitalize, dropping the next three games, including a rough outing from Jon Lester in a 7-3 loss on Sunday Night Baseball.
The veteran lefty gave up five earned runs for the second straight start, and up to this point, it was the fourth start of the season he allowed at least five runs or more.
A solid outing from Kyle Hendricks salvaged the series finale with a 5-1 win, and the Cubs stayed ahead of St. Louis by three games in the division.
It would have been easy to throw in the towel after this rough stretch, but the Cubs kept their cool and took two of three games in their final series against the Reds.
This span of games had many wondering whether or not the Cubs should be considered a legitimate World Series contender and who they should go after at the trade deadline.
To no surprise, there were no big moves made. Instead, the team brought in veteran designated hitter Jose Martinez, outfielder Cameron Maybin, and left-handed relievers Andrew Chafin and Josh Osich.
The team also acquired speedster, Billy Hamilton, from waivers a few days later.
Of the acquisitions, only Maybin, Hamilton, and Chafin remain on the active roster. They aren’t blockbuster moves, but I believe they are solid role players that can make an impact in the postseason.
Up to this point, the Cubs remained in first place, but the lack of consistency and high-expectations from what we are accustomed to made it feel like this team was a lot worse.
The reality was they were “playing bad,” so what kind of team would this be if they found their groove in the final 15 games?