Pretty Good First Half…What’s Next For The Cubs?

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The Chicago Cubs ended the “first half” with a record of 53-35, with a seven-game lead on the second-place St. Louis Cardinals after a much needed win against a resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates team.  The winning tally came off a Kris Bryant hit that scored a speeding Matt Szczur from second base.

This was a pretty nice play by the Pirates ball girl, just thought I’d throw that out there because it was cool:

But you came to read about the Cubs, so let’s give that a shot, shall we?  At 53-35, they have the second-best record in the NL behind the San Francisco Giants (it IS an even year, after all) and in all of MLB, in a virtual tie with the also-struggling Texas Rangers.  The 53-35 record is five wins below their expected record based on run differential, which is still at an incredible +139 despite the June swoon.  Speaking of that swoon:

And then you’ll say something like, but the Cubs are (some record) in (some stretch based on arbitrary endpoints)!  To which there is another fun fact:

I think they’ll end up being OK.  I like the part where a number of losses right now doesn’t matter as much as a few losses in a row during a five- or seven-game series during the playoffs, and the guys will learn from it, adjust, and be better prepared (we hope!) for October.  Currently, the Cubs are second behind the Boston Red Sox with 5.23 runs scored per game, and although their pitching has suffered during this bad stretch, are still good at run prevention with just 3.65 runs allowed per game, good for fourth in the majors.  The staff ERA is second to the Washington Nationals at 3.36, despite all Cubs starters not named Kyle Hendricks struggling and the bullpen having their share of issues.  And the Cubs just had their first five-game losing streak of the season prior to winning the series finale against the Pirates, which is impressive considering most of MLB have already had their share of 5+-game losing streaks already!

The Cubs players have been fine overall, with both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant having MVP-caliber seasons.  Check this out:

They will get David Ross back after the break once his head is clear from the concussion-like symptoms, and Dexter Fowler should be back soon afterwards.  The pitchers will get a much needed break and they have a good enough pitching coach in Chris Bosio plus good enough stuff that they should be able to get out of their slumps as well.  Then you look at rookies like Willson Contreras and Albert Almora and realize that they’re actually not doing too badly, although they could use some more seasoning (Willson on defense with Miguel Montero and Ross tutoring him, and Almora with the bat).  The outlook is good, and here’s to getting the home field advantage over the last 74 games…

The National League All-Stars will have these guys up for a few inning trying to get some runs on the board before the mass-substitutions come along:

And since nobody wants to see a pitcher hit, everyone gets a designated hitter!  Here’s the American League lineup:

It’s Red Sox vs. Cubs for home field advantage in the World Series!  While we wait for the All-Star Game to be played, here’s what the Cubs have coming up:

I’ll update the matchups when the other teams figure their stuff out, but the Rangers are kind of in a world of hurt right now, and the Mets as well.  For all the bad luck and slumping that has befallen the Cubs just before the All-Star Break, at least everyone stayed healthy for the most part!  And the second half begins with that homestand with an off-day right after.  The rest will certainly be appreciated by the Cubs.

Texas Rangers vs. Chicago Cubs

Friday, July 15
1:20 PM Central
TV = CSN, MLB Network (out of market), Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score

Saturday, July 16
1:20 PM Central
TV = ABC 7, MLB Network (out of market), Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score

Sunday, July 17
1:20 PM Central
TV = ABC 7, TBS, Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score

New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs

Monday, July 18
6:05 PM Central
TV = WPWR (Channel 50), ESPN (out of market), Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score

Tuesday, July 19
6:05 PM Central
TV = CSN, ESPN (out of market), Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score

Wednesday, July 20
1:20 PM Central
TV = ABC 7, Radio = WSCR AM 670 The Score



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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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