Already solid Cubs pitching staff set to get a shot in the arm in the coming weeks

With the offense in a team-wide rut that's lasted nearly a month, it's easy to overlook some encouraging injury updates on the pitching side.
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

As the Chicago Cubs offense continues to battle through one of its longest cold spells in recent memory, the pitching staff continues to chug along and keep the team's postseason hopes alive.

Shota Imanaga and Javier Assad rank first and third among MLB starters in ERA. Jameson Taillon enters Saturday's start against St. Louis with a 2.20 clip in a half-dozen starts. In the bullpen, Hector Neris has felt less like a tightrope-walking sword swallower in his recent appearances and it's been an all-hands-on-deck approach from that group, as a whole.

Young right-hander Ben Brown continues to do whatever is asked of him - and do it well. You could easily make the case he's been one of the most valuable members of this Cubs team over the first two months, given his ability to seamlessly bounce back and forth between starting and coming out of the pen.

Cubs could get multiple pitchers back from the IL in the coming weeks

So while watching the offense might make you physically ill, there's cause for hope in the strength this pitching staff has shown since the start of the season. And, soon, some reinforcements are expected, adding fresh arms back into the mix.

Veteran left-hander Drew Smyly is back with the team in St. Louis, fully recovered from a right hip issue. He looked especially sharp in his rehab assignment and gives Counsell another guy who can pivot between starting and relieving, as needed, although he's been markedly better out of the pen.

Looking past Smyly, Jordan Wicks, Daniel Palencia and Yency Almonte are all nearing a return, as well, which means Counsell and the front office will have some decisions to make sooner rather than later regarding the 26-man roster.

As bad as the last month has been for this team, namely when it comes to the offense, now is a good time to step back and look at the big picture. Chicago enters Saturday just 2 1/2 games out of first - and currently holds the second NL wild card spot. The pitching staff has been a huge strength to this point and with an infusion of fresh arms into the mix, perhaps the Cubs can gear up for a run here as June approaches.