Cubs look to improve after all-star break

Chicago+Cubs+Miguel+Montero+%2847%29+celebrates+a+grand+slam+during+the+eighth+inning+of+Game+1+of+the+National+League+baseball+championship+series+against+the+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+Saturday%2C+Oct.+15%2C+2016%2C+in+Chicago.+%28AP+Photo%2FNam+Y.+Huh%29

Chicago Cubs’ Miguel Montero (47) celebrates a grand slam during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

By Eddie Garcia

The Chicago Cubs are on pace to make history yet again, just not in the way Cubs fans or Major League Baseball experts had predicted.

Before the start of the 2017 MLB season, 40 percent of ESPN analysts selected the Cubs to represent the National League in the 2017 World Series.

The Cubs have been an average team thus far with a 43-45 overall record. This is far below the pace the team was on last season and there are reasons for it.

The team’s ability to score and not allow runs has regressed since their success in the 2016 World Series.

At this point last season, the Cubs led the MLB with a +139 run-differential, according to baseballreference.com. They then went on to become only one of 19 World Series teams to finish the season with a +252 run-differential.

The Cubs now have a 0 run-differential through the first half of the 2017 season thus far, proving their mediocrity. If they continue on this pace, they could finish the year with one of the biggest drop-offs in MLB history.

The formula that helped win 103 games and led the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years has been lost.

Fortunately for the Cubs, they remain just 3.5 games behind the National League Central division leaders, the Milwaukee Brewers.

The north-siders look to find their way in the second half of the season as they have recently recalled outfield slugger Kyle Schwarber from triple-A Iowa. Schwarber was sent down in mid-June after hitting just .171 in 261 plate appearances this season, according to baseballreference.com.

Hopefully for the Cubs, Schwarber’s brief stint in the minors can boost his confidence level back to where it was when he returned from his knee injury last season and reached base 10 times in 20 plate appearances to help the Cubs win the World Series. Schwarber hit .343 with four home runs in 11 games down in Iowa. His presence at the plate is crucial for the Cubs success as he needs to produce in the second half for the team to win some ball games.

Unlike last year in San Diego, fans will not get to see another Cubs starting infield in the 2017 All-Star game. The Cubs sent seven players to represent the team in 2016, but that number has dropped dramatically this time around to only one participant in closing pitcher Wade Davis, who will join head coach Joe Maddon at the All-Star game.

Davis has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs, as he has accumulated a 1.8 ERA and tallied 16 saves, according to ESPN.

This year’s all-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the for the Cubs. They are coming off a difficult game against the Pirates Sunday where starting pitcher Jon Lester sacrificed 10 runs in the first inning, leading to an early departure.

The Cubs went on to lose 14-3 in a game that was over from the first inning and on. This was the first time the Cubs have given up 10 or more runs in the first since Aug. 7 1998 against the St. Louis Cardinals, according to the Associated Press.

This game is the perfect description of how the season has gone so far for the Cubs. Even though the team will probably still make the playoffs, they won’t be there for long if they keep playing like this.

The Cubs simply need to get their confidence back. Some teams may be satisfied with this record, but this team knows they are capable of so much more and their record does not accurately represented that thus far.

This break is the perfect time for the Cubs to get some rests and enjoy the all-star festivities, including Monday’s home run derby.

Similar to the rain delay that helped them win game seven of the 2016 World Series, this break should help refresh the team help them get back to playing like the defending World Series Champions they are.