Currently sitting at a healthy ten games over .500, the Chicago Cubs came from the ashes early on in their 2019 campaign to sit in first place over the Milwaukee Brewers. Dubbed as one of the most difficult divisions to win this season, the National League Central will truly test the wills of all teams in this division, but the Cubs have shown an extra gear early on in the year.
Breaking down their season by month, and their record was a big-time rollercoaster. Only having played three total games in the month of March, they managed to drop their first series of the season, an interleague matchup with the Texas Rangers, winning on Opening Day but dropping the next two against the Rangers.
From there, the Cubs had an absolutely awful beginning to their April schedule, only winning four of their first ten April games. The Cubbies four of their first five in this month, including being swept in three games in Atlanta against the Braves – their only win of this stretch was the first game of their first divisional series when they only won the opener in a three-game set with the Brewers.
After this rough stretch, the team won ten games and only lost four more the rest of the month, a testament to the fact that this team finally realized everything that it took to play the game of baseball. At the forefront of this effort were two franchise stalwarts, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant.
Bryzzo, as they are “affectionately” referred to, came through in the clutch and helped bring this team back from the depths of mediocrity, for at least the time being. Both players rank in the top five for team average, home runs, RBI’s and at-bats.
Teaming with Javier Baez to form a really solid young core, both Bryant and Rizzo are held to higher standards in Chicago, which apparently happens to every single Chicago athlete ever in the history of time, because who saw that coming. In order to live up to the ‘playoffs or die’ mantra that has been thrust onto this team, the franchise needs to perform well and to make sure that 2018 is a thing of the past.
Ending their season at home with two consecutive losses was one of the more underwhelming ways that a baseball franchise can end a season. From losing to the Brewers to secede the NL Central division title to then losing to the Colorado Rockies at home after hosting the NL Wild Card game was a big blow to this team going forward.
Having to deal with injuries and inconsistencies from all their players, the Cubs have rebounded nicely in 2019, even with their off the field issues dominating headlines across the country. The truly disgusting story that surrounds Addison Russell is something that should never be rewarded or applauded, yet he only received a slap on the wrist and a suspension, but no permanent ramifications were handed down by either the league or the team, speaking to a much bigger issue.
With Russell now back with the team and in the starting lineup, pundits all around are coming out of the woodwork to give their two sense on how the Cubs handled this, which is not well, especially considering how there are reported situations of their attempts to stifle journalists and writers in their articles to not say anything bad about Russell – or else.
Dealing with off the field issues is never an easy task for a franchise, but even as the distraction now resides in Chicago and not in the minor leagues, Rizzo and Bryant have helped right the ship and get this team back on the winning trail. Their May schedule is looking quite beneficial to their long-term chances at making the playoffs yet again, as they have produced a sparking ten win, three loss record through the halfway point of May.
On the backs of both Rizzo and Bryant, the Cubs have the pieces in place to bring them into the conversation for the World Series. Provided their bouts with their divisional mates do not tear them down and make them lose big amounts of ground, then this team is a true contender for the ultimate prize.