5 overly optimistic predictions for the Chicago Cubs second half

The Chicago Cubs have the NL Central division within their grasp with an easy schedule going into the trade deadline. Here's some optimistic predictions for the second half.
Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs
Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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There have been some serious ups and downs for the Chicago Cubs this year. There has been a decent amount of success, notably from the starting rotation. But on the other hand, there's been plenty to criticize whether it be the discombobulated bullpen, the inconsistent offense, or the absolute disaster at the first base position. However, the Cubs have a relatively easy schedule heading into the August 1st trade deadline where they are slated to face multiple teams with records under .500.

With that in mind, the Cubs could put themselves in a great position to not only become buyers at the trade deadline but even make a playoff run. With all this being said, here are some optimistic and probably unrealistic predictions for the remainder of the Cubs' 2023 season.

1. Justin Steele wins the Cy Young award

Justin Steele has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Cubs this year. In 16 starts, Steele owns a stellar 2.56 ERA (2nd in the NL) and a WHIP of 1.06 (3rd in NL). The southpaw is also coming off his first All-Star game appearance where he tossed a 10-pitch scoreless inning. All in all, Steele is building off his breakout season last year and taking things to the next level, which is making him look like an ace-level starter.

The only blemish on Steele's season was a short but costly IL stint that has put him behind the pack in terms of innings pitched (91). Meanwhile, Zach Gallen, the main front-runner for the NL Cy Young, has almost 30 more innings on the books than Steele at 118. Gallen and maybe Atlanta Braves starter Spencer Strider are the two main players standing in Steele's way for the award. Steele is not as strikeout-heavy when compared to the other two men, which also hurts his chances.

But if Steele can avoid the IL and continue to go deep into ball games, there's a chance that he collects enough innings to make a run at the Cy Young. He just needs to continue to play his game and keep the momentum he's had for the last year and a half.