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Chicago Cubs Slow Rise Could Pay Off Down the Stretch

Chicago Cubs rise

The Chicago Cubs rise in NL Central comes from many different things. It starts with newly acquired stars Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger, who are leading the team to a 17-17 record, good for third in the division. Swanson is continuing to perform at an all-star level while continuing to be one of the best defensive shortstops. Bellinger is having a career resurgence with the Cubs returning to MVP form with a .300 batting average, seven home runs and 19 RBI through 31 games. With Swanson and Bellinger, the Cubs have the players on their roster who can help them take the next step. Pitching, new prospects and playing in a tough division is what is keeping Chicago competing early on in the season.

Cubs on The Rise, Watch Out!

Justin Steele for NL Cy Young

It is hard to find a better-performing pitcher than Justin Steele at the moment. Through seven starts, the right-hander has a 5-0 record with a 1.45 ERA. If Steele is able to perform like this throughout the entire season the NL Cy Young Award winner should be easy to decide. Jake Arrieta in 2015 is the most recent instance of a Cubs pitcher winning the NL Cy Young award.

Steele is tied for first in the NL in wins with Clayton Kershaw at five. Steele also ranks at the top of every major pitching statistical category through seven starts. At minimum Steele is on pace to make the NL All Star team and could earn the honor of starting the All-Star Game. Steele having a good start to the season has given a boost to the Cubs rotation.

New Prospects Arrive to Wrigley

On May 4 the Cubs called up top prospect first baseman Matt Mervis from Triple-A Iowa. Mervis made an immediate impact in his first game with the Cubs getting his first career hit and RBI. The arrival of Mervis gives the team a long-term starter at first base to help stabilize the position currently seeing Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini splitting time.

Catcher Miguel Amaya got a promotion as well. Yan Gomes is on the IL so Amaya got called up to fill in at catcher temporarily. Amaya and Mervis are both key players for the Cubs future as they rebuild. Christopher Morel also deserves to be called up based on Triple-A currently batting .330 with 11 HR and 31 RBI. Morel also can play infield and outfield positions which is important in today’s game.

Tough Division Could Come Into Play

As unexpected as the Cubs start to the season has been, nobody expected the Pittsburgh Pirates to start fast. The Pirates lead the NL Central and are one of the surprises so far. On the flip side not many people would have expected the St. Louis Cardinals to be this bad. The Cardinals have been awful by their high standards. This opens the door for a team like the Cubs to sneak in and win the division.

Even if the Cubs can keep it going to rest of the NL will be hard to beat come playoff time. The three Wild Card spots are going to be hotly contested since so many teams are capable of winning their respective divisions. Getting through the NL will be a challenge. The Cubs are a team that can rise to the occasion and capitalize on the situation. Watch out for the Cubs come October because this team can win it all.

Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Players Mentioned:

Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Justin Steele, Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Mervis, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Miguel AmayaYan Gomes, Christopher Morel 


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