Cubs Look Like Different Breed in August
They say August is where you will find the dog days of summer.
When it comes to the first two seasons of the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer regime, Cubs teams have resembled euthanasia candidates as the muggy months dragged on.
But this August is a little bit different.
The Cubs are holding strong at 13–10 during the month, including winning 16 of their last 28 games.
What makes it even more impressive is the fact that they are winning against teams very much in the playoff hunt, such as the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles, whom the Cubs just finished off with a three-game sweep.
Sure, Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez have provided welcomed injections of youth and excitement into the everyday lineup. Yet you cannot mistake the major difference in this late summer compared to the first two years of the rebuild: Pitching.
Both starting and relief pitching have been light years better than what we’ve had to witness over the last couple of closing stretches. Gone are the days of Rodrigo Lopez or Justin Germano being slotted into rotation spots after summer sell-offs.
Enter Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada, who have filled in more than adequately this time around. They have definitely put themselves into the Cubs future conversation.
The Manager sees it that way, he told Fred Mitchell.
“He (Wada) is pitching very, very well. There are decisions that have to be made. He certainly has put himself in a good position,” Rick Renteria said.
At first I wasn’t sure what long-view lens the Cubs were looking through when they brought Wada into the rotation at age 33. However, he has shown enough already to garner some consideration for next year’s rotation.
Yes, the Cubs are setting themselves up nicely, it seems, with plenty of young star potential coming to the batter’s box for years to come.
But you can’t sleep on their up-and-coming bullpen either, led by closer Hector Rondon. All they have done is post a collective ERA of 1.71 in that aforementioned 28-game period.
In addition to Rondon, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, and Pedro Strop look like a solid core of young power arms that will prevent the Cubs from spending money on the Jose Veras types any longer.
While some may worry if all this winning will cost the Cubs a higher draft pick next season, I am more focused on the potential development we are witnessing rather than the outcomes.
This August the Cubs resemble a young greyhound growing into its legs, rather than a dog on its last.