The trade deadline has come and gone. The National League Central remains highly contested. The Cubs bullpen, per some fans, seems to be in disarray. However, with all that being said, the Chicago Cubs are in first place in the division. Wrigley Field has been the friendly confines that it advertises to be… for the Cubs. The road hasn’t. Just a few days into August, here are three things the Cubs should do to stay in the race for the division title. Cubs fans, here’s your survival guide to the month of August. And no, watching the Bears isn’t on this list. Sorry, coach Ditka.
Win Six Road Games
This doesn’t seem like a lot, but in this division, it means a lot. The Cubs, at the time this article was written, are 21-33 on the road. That’s a .389 winning percentage, one of the worst in all of baseball. The Cubs have 14 road games this month. 39 percent of 14 is five and a fraction. So, with that being said, six road wins would surpass the .389 winning percentage they currently have.
On these road woes, teams have won in the past having road woes. Jackie Redmond (@Jackie_Redmond on Twitter) was interviewed by MLB Central before the Cubs-Cardinals series at the trade deadline. One thing that was mentioned was the Cubs road woes, and that she researched this. The ’87 Twins were 29-52 on the road (.358). They won the World Series. The ’06 Cardinals were 34-47 on the road (.420). She made the point that the best road record is not all indicative of if a team wins the World Series. And that’s the point I make here, and what I’ll continue into the next segment…
Win Every Series at Home
With the addition of a sweep of the Brewers at Wrigley, the Cubs are 40-19 at the friendly confines. That makes a .678 winning percentage. Of course, two out of three makes .667. This neither helps nor hurts the home winning percentage. There are three home series left in August, after today’s day game against the A’s. Counting a victory today, two wins in each series makes six wins. Six wins on the road makes 12. 12 and the five victories already tallied makes 17. If you win 15 per month, you’ll win 90 in the season. If the Cubs do both things prescribed, they will end the month with 73 wins, two behind the 90-pace, but it looks as if 90 might not be attained in this division.
Now, how do they win the games I prescribed for them?
Trust your acquisitions- the Pen and Bats
I realize I sound like a dad saying that, but if Joe Maddon trust what he’s got, then you should, too. According to ESPN, the Cubs have just four blown save opportunities this year. However, it feels a lot worse than that. The Cubs have the most losses when leading after seven innings in 2019, so this pads the low number of blown saves.
Maddon and Theo Epstein realize this, and they accommodated for it to the best of their ability. Signing Craig Kimbrel, and trading for David Phelps and Derek Holland have temporarily helped things in the back end of the pen. However, injuries to Pedro Strop (who has now returned), Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler and top prospect Adbert Alzolay have made the Cubs rely more on Brad Brach and Steve Cishek more than the fans, and even Maddon would like. But again, the Cubs remain in first place.
Now, for the bats. Anthony Lapoce has done well for the team, but towards the end of July, the team needed a lift. Epstein traded for Nick Castellanos and Tony Kemp to help this out, and Castellanos has lifted the offense in a big way. With a hit in each game, Castellanos is batting .400 so far with the team. Also, Jason Heyward has helped jump-start the offense in the leadoff spot, with hits nearly every game since Maddon made the decision. (and yes, if I didn’t mention that, I wouldn’t be hearing the end of it from our @theriot326).
If the bats stay hot, and the pen stays healthy, the Cubs are more than capable of completing the two tasks I’ve set out for them. Let’s see what could be if this happens.
The Point of it all
September is a big month for all contending teams, but August is the month that gets you there. Winning the pennant is not achieved in August, but getting in position to win happens in August.
The month of August in baseball is like your second shot on a par-four. Your tee shot (First half of the season) is either in the fairway or in the first cut. A good second shot gets you on the green or close. A bad one puts you in the bunker or out of play. Take your time, set it up, take ONE practice swing, and fire away.
Let’s Fly the W this August, and hopefully in September and October, too!
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