Cubs: Joc Pederson has quickly flipped the script on his early struggles

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

For my 30th birthday earlier this month, my mother-in-law got me an outdoor projector. I broke it out for the first time on Friday, figuring the first Cubs-Cardinals matchup of the year was the perfect occasion to christen my new toy.

I’d barely settled in when Joc Pederson took the first pitch of the ballgame into the right field seats for a leadoff home run, setting the tone for what wound up being a 12-3 Chicago victory that pulled the North Siders within two games of first in the division.

"“You hear the guys just losing it, jumping out to a 1-0 lead,” Kyle Hendricks told of the dugout vibes after the blast. “We obviously know these are all big games [when] we face these guys, so just to get any kind of edge we can get is huge, and there’s nothing bigger than that.”"

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While many, myself included have pegged the Cubs as clear-cut sellers at the deadline, the team has done enough to stay in the hunt, despite inconsistencies and an array of injuries on the roster. A sweep of this weekend’s series would put Chicago atop the division, which is nothing short of astonishing.

Cubs: Joc Pederson has been clutch

Pederson has been a huge part of the team’s resurgence, going on a tear since coming back from the IL on May 4. This month, the outfielder is batting .396/.433/.528 – nearly doubling his OPS from April (.492).

Given the injuries this team has weathered (and are currently battling through), a productive Pederson is critical. There’s little in terms of outfield depth with this roster and having him team up with fellow outfielder Ian Happ to carry the offense has been exciting to watch.

For Cubs skipper David Ross, it’s been one less question he needs to answer. Pederson has been putting together professional at-bats and has seen his numbers quickly climb.

"“He’s been a real spark plug,” Ross said. “We talk about the offense and getting going, I mean, since he’s been back and manning the leadoff spot versus right-handed pitching, we’ve done a pretty nice job. His at-bats have been quality. Everybody kept asking me, ‘When’s he gonna hit homers again?’ And you know, he’s a professional hitter. You saw how fast that average climbed up, taking balls the other way, taking his hits, and he can play the game and look for what he wants to look for.”"

Next. Ian Happ is scorching hot and carrying the offense. dark

Over the last week, Pederson is batting .294/.350/.529. After his performance in the blowout win Friday, Ross penciled him in atop the order again Saturday looking to replicate that success. One thing’s for sure, though: no matter where he’s at in the lineup right now, this guy is doing big-time damage.