Ian Happ has gotten white-hot in a crucial stretch for the Chicago Cubs

The veteran outfielder has shaken off a slow start at the plate to rebound in a big way.
Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

While the Chicago Cubs once again flirt with becoming sellers at the MLB trade deadline, left fielder Ian Happ isn't letting the team surrender quietly. Riding a scorching hot stretch at the plate, Happ ranks fifth in the National League in runs batted in (22) during the past 30 days.

To break it down further, since June 15, Happ owns a .343 average and has hit seven of his 13 home runs on the season. The slug has come back at a perfect time, and this prolonged stretch has sparked the Cubs’ offense when the team has needed it most. 

I mentioned over the winter that Happ needed to improve specifically against right-handed pitching at Wrigley Field. He has adjusted nicely, with a batting average of .296 this season. After a slow start, Happ’s 152 wRC+ equated to 52% above league-average in June, and he has only increased that mark with an 8-for-20 (.400) start to July, with four of those hits being of the extra-base variety. Given what has transpired in the standings recently, Happ’s offensive production couldn’t come at a more perfect time. This isn’t the first time Happ has gotten hot once the weather warms up. 

It’s a month early for the annual Happ breakout after a prolonged slump. It’s typically in August that he comes to life, as told by his career .525 slugging percentage and 126 wRC+ in August. Given the lack of offensive output from the entire team, we have to hope that Happ’s recent sense of urgency provides the spark this team so desperately needs.

Can Ian Happ's recent turnaround get this team back on track?

With the trade deadline just over three weeks away, the Cubs need to go on the tear to justify any buying, and a big part of that will be backing up the starting pitching that has been so phenomonal this season. The bullpen's woes are what they are and have shown signs of leveling out of late, but the offense has the potential to be much better than it has shown us recently. 

The same players we were high on to begin the season have underperformed, but they are still fully capable of being what gave us much higher hopes in the first place. If the rotation can continue at its pace, the team just needs to find ways to manufacture a couple more runs per game and avoid late-game bullpen meltdowns to try and claw its way back into the race.

More players will need to step up at the plate for the Cubs to have a shot at turning this thing around by the July 30 deadline. Time is of the essence - but it's still possible. The upcoming schedule is daunting before the deadline and will be an uphill battle. Swiftly approaching the point of no return, it’s now or never for the 2024 Chicago Cubs to find their groove.

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