Flying High!

As day break comes later and later in the mornings and the nights begin to cool back to an early June the baseball season starts to see itself dwindle down to a few teams vying for playoff chances. The teams that have treaded water all year start to fade like the sun in the early evening and the contenders shine bright like the starry sky that takes over. The Chicago Cubs with only a quarter left of their season are starting to more and resemble a team that’ll be playing in the cool October weather. Something they haven’t done in seven years. The city is abuzz with hope from this team and the idea of fall baseball in Chicago is exciting

The autumn brings about the changing of the season and the falling of the love leaves. The pumpkin flavored craze comes back in annum and people start to dress in khakis and sweaters while putting away flip flops and shorts. October is by far one of the best months of the year and with baseball being an attraction for the city this year, the city starts to ponder what it would be like had the Cubs advanced past Game 6 12 years ago.

The recent surge from the northside nine has come from the offense this time and the player that has seemed to spark the whole thing is catcher and outfielder Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber has the highest OPS in baseball since coming up to play regularly and his ability to play multiple positions including left field has allowed Joe Maddon to make his lineup the best he could. Starlin Castro is now on the bench and the position of 2B is now tended by former LF Chris Coghlan. Jorge Soler is starting to hit and the lineup is really lengthened with Addison Russell batting ninth as kind of a second leadoff hitter. ¬†The pitching has and will always be there, and despite Dan Haren’s first start which didn’t go so well he should be better his next time around which is tomorrow at home against the last place Brewers whom the Cubs just swept last weekend.

The Cubs now have the third best record in the National League and the fourth best record in baseball at 62-48 which is their high watermark for the season at 14 games above five-hundred. Chicago can still topple the Pirates to host the NL Wild Card game, but the Dodgers didn’t do them any favors this weekend as they were swept at the hands of the Bucs in Pittsburgh. Chicago trails the Pirates by 3.5 games to host the play-in game, but that number could be trimmed by at least one or two if the Cardinals can take of business at home starting tomorrow until Thursday. The Pirates and Cardinals start a big series in St. Louis and if the Cubs can again handle the lowly Brewers like they did just a week ago in Milwaukee, Joe Maddon’s crew could be well within striking range of leap frogging another team in the standings.

The Cubs are still too far back to think about overtaking the Cardinals, but if the Cubs and Pirates swept their midweek series both teams could be right back in the thick of the NL central race. The Cardinals currently have an 8.5 game lead on the Cubs and a 5.5 game lead on the Pirates, but with the two best teams in the NL battling it out, the race could tighten up a bit with the Cubs handling their own bit of business.

The season’s still far from over and a bad week could send the Cubs right back into a dog fight to make the play in game, but as it stands right now the Cubs are comfortably in the playoffs with their sights on hosting the game. Joe Maddon has to start thinking about whether or not he’d stick with Lester against Gerrit Cole or go with Jake Arrieta who yesterday pitched 7 2/3 inning of shutout ball and hit a triple and scored a run. In Arrieta’s last ten starts the Cubs right handed co-ace has been lights out posting the best numbers in the majors of that same span. In Arrieta’s last ten starts he’s been phenomenal going 8-2 with a 1.23 ERA.¬†Arrieta hasn’t allowed a run in his last 14+ innings and is currently one of the best pitchers in baseball.