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Here come the reigning champions


javier baez

Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs are making their way back to the top. This season, the reigning World Series Champs haven’t been playing the way most expected they’d play after breaking the curse and winning their first championship in 108 years.

But the Cubs haven’t lost since the All-Star break.

Chicago has won six games straight, sweeping both the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves on the road. The streak began with an Addison Russell, game winning home run against the O’s at Camden Yards on July 14th. As of writing this, a Cubs off day, they are 1.5 games out of first place. They will begin a three game home series with the St. Louis Cardinals (currently fourth in the NL Central and 4.5 games out) and at the end of the month they will meet the first place Brewers (who have lost four in a row) for a three game series from July 28-30.

The race for the NL Central is currently as close as it can get, with the third place Pittsburgh Pirates only four games out of first place and a half a game ahead of the fourth place Cards.

But back to the Cubs, the reigning champs have been on an offensive explosion, outscoring their opponents 44 to 17 over these six wins. Their offensive statistics have skyrocketed. Just take a look at their hitting stats from the last 30 days compared to their stats from the last week. Over the last 30 days Javier Baez hit .338, but since the All-Star break (he’s played in five of six of the games), he’s exploded to .500 with home runs in back-to-back games and four consecutive multi-hit games.

jayson heyward

 

He’s not the only one, take a look at some of the Cubs’ other hitters:

 

Player Last 30 days Last 7 days
Jayson Heyward .333 .429
Wilson Contreras .317 .409
Addison Russell .301 .409
Kris Bryant .321 .348

 

*Stats from Cubs.com

Baez has recorded 10 hits over the seven day period, Contreras, Russell and Heyward all have nine hits while Bryant recorded eight hits.

We’ve also seen better pitching statistics from the Cubs. Jose Quintana is proving to be a great addition to the team, and pitched seven scoreless innings during his debut, Jon Lester gave up a single run and three hits in seven innings and John Lackey, who had a 5.24 ERA over the last 30 days, gave up a run and five hits in five innings pitched. Overall the Cubs starters have a combined ERA of 2.00 over the last six games.

jose quintana

Even Manager Joe Madden feels the difference, saying after their latest win that “We’ve had this energy since the beginning of the second half in Baltimore.”

Of course it would be difficult to continue hitting these numbers for the remainder of the season, but they’re looking better than they have and more like the Cubs we were expecting to see in 2017. Now we just have to wait and see if this is a fluke or if they really are playing at the level we expected from the beginning of the season.