Injury plagued Cubs staff saved by strong bats

By James Krause

The Chicago Cubs are one of the hottest teams in the National League as the season heads closer to the All-Star Break.

The team ranks highest in the National League in hits, runs, batting average and on-base percentage. The team averages 5.12 runs per game, according to Baseball Reference

Javier Baez had a breakout season for the Cubs, leading the team with 61 RBIs and tying with outfielder Kyle Schwarber for best OPS at .876.

Baez also leads the league in the Power-Speed Number, the a number used by Baseball Reference that measures out home runs and stolen bases.

The Power-Speed Number displays a player’s versatility in terms of base running and power hitting, making Baez a headache for opposing managers and pitchers.

Their star first baseman Anthony Rizzo has also been a dominating force at the plate with 58 RBIs and 12 home runs.

The team has also seen great performances from their bullpen, with relief pitcher Steve Cishek currently holding an ERA of 1.85 in 40 appearances.

34 year old starting pitcher Jon Lester is undoubtedly the best pitcher in the starting rotation, boasting a 11-2 record and a 2.25 ERA. While sacrificing strikeouts, Lester has been able to get wins for his team in a fashion close to his near Cy Young winning season in 2016.

Despite this hot streak, the Cubs are still struggling to secure the top spot in the Central division due to injuries and struggles from their starting pitching staff.

Starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who the Cubs signed from the Los Angeles Dodgers for $25 million a year, pitched in only eight games this season and holds a 1-3 record with a 4.95 ERA.

The 31-year old from Japan hasn’t pitched in a game since May due to a right elbow impingement, and there is no set time table on his return.

Another new addition to the Cubs starting rotation who has struggled is Tyler Chatwood, previously of the Colorado Rockies. Chatwood is currently holding a 3-5 record and with 66 base on balls already, is on pace to throw the most walks of his seven year career.

Fellow starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks has been in a slump this season, with a 5-8 record and career high 4.27 ERA to this point.

Injuries have also affected the star batters for the Cubs. The former NL MVP Kris Bryant was holding steady at a .280 batting average before he went on the disabled-list for the first time in his career in late June due to inflammation in his left shoulder.

The struggles with pitching have allowed their rival Milwaukee Brewers to hold the division lead for a good portion of the season. Still, the Cubs would still hold the top wild card spot if the season ended today.

The Cubs have great weapons at the plate, but with struggles at the mound and injuries keeping stars off the field, the Cubs will still need to up their gain even further if they want to claim the division and make another World Series run.