clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sorry, MLB, the Cubs are great again

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes the Cubs’ recent return to dominance, Ichiro’s 3,000th hit, and the end of A-Rod’s career.

Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Listen, we know it's tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn't easy. It's okay, though, we're going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

* * *

The Cubs have had kind of a weird season. The beginning of their year was so, so great that it masked the months of mediocrity that followed. They began 2016 with a 25-6 run, matching a franchise record so old that their World Series-less streak hadn’t even begun yet. They then had a stretch, covering the rest of May, all of June, and a chunk of July, that saw them go just 27-29, which slowly evaporated the enormous lead they had built on the Cardinals in the NL Central. Things never got too dire, though, as Chicago seems to have recovered: they entered the All-Star break riding a three-game winning streak, and that success has carried over into the second half, as they’re 17-6 in their last 23 games, and undefeated in August.

Even when the Cubs were hovering around .500 ball for a few months, they were still playing exceptionally and outscoring opponents. They haven’t played to that level in one-run games, though — Chicago is just 15-16 in those contests on the season — and that’s part of why they went out and acquired Aroldis Chapman before the trade deadline. You knew the pitching wasn’t going to hold up at its early season levels forever, and that came to a head in the first couple of weeks in July when Chicago was blown out on a few occasions. Even with their strong-post All-Star play, they couldn’t finish the month with a positive run differential.

That seems to be behind them at the moment. Jake Arrieta seems to be getting back on track after a stretch that saw his ERA more than double while his innings per start plummeted. Chapman is a question off the field, and his whole acquisition is a problem, but on the field, his presence means fewer relief innings for less qualified arms. Their lead over the Cardinals is back up to 11 1/2 games after it had dipped to just 6 1/2 with a whole lot of baseball left for both clubs. Now, if Chicago could just get Jason Heyward to hit, then they’d be about as close to worry-free as a baseball team can get.