Justin Dukes covers the Chicago Cubs and their developments for WARR.com
As if the Chicago Cubs losing their third straight series to begin the month of August wasn’t enough of an assessment of the Cubs’ current internal fortitude, seeing catcher Willson Contreras being helped off the field in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants all but proves the team’s mid-season turnaround holds little merit in the long view.
What once looked like a comfortable lead atop the NL Central division now looks more like a petty game of keep away between siblings in the Cubs and their eternal tormentors from St. Louis, who this week frog-hopped once game Milwaukee to settle into second place as we come out of this weekend.
As reigning National League Player of the Week, Contreras was without question filling out a season where he established himself as a key contributor to the Cubs on both offense and defense. With a very good batting average and a slew of RBIs to his credit Contreras was definitely a relief the Cubs needed through the length of their up and down turnouts in the past few series.
In the Cubs’ final game against the Giants on Wednesday, Madison Bumgarner looked to be in peak form even considering his just returning from the disabled list. The Giants had only one winning series at home the entire season, but predictably so, they were able to claim their second with the still somewhat unpredictable Cubs.
Seeing Contreras hobbled in the eighth inning was definitely the salt in the wound for that bitter loss. On the fortunate side of things Contreras is predicted to be out for about a month and could very well be ready for the post season.
Living up to the inconsistent label, the Cubs were able to bounce back in Game one of the weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a series the Cubs managed to win out 2-1 while keeping a one game lead over the Cardinals.
Friday started off hot with pitcher John Lackey, who attributed his play in part to a good resting period, setting the stage for other positive contributions such as home runs by Kyle Schwarber and Alex Avilia to eventually capture the win.
Sunday afternoon saw another pitcher seemingly getting his feet back under him, Jake Arrieta, provide another standout effort while Javy Baez and the lineup provided 3 great smashes to spark the offense.
With the Cubs holding meager leads over the Cardinals and the Brewers, this is definitely not the time of the year to be playing the guessing game. The Cubs are facing an eight game stretch against both teams towards the end of September, which in all likelihood will decide the winner of the NL Central.
In traditional Joe Maddon fashion, the Cubs manager reassures everyone that he still believes the North Siders have all the ingredients to win. Taking things a step further he emphasized that the departed members of the 2016 championship team aren’t the cause of the team’s up and down season, but merely growing pains in learning a new way to win.
What Cubs fans are hoping Maddon means is that they have the ingredients to win in the present, it’ll only take a bit more stirring before dinner’s ready.
Justin Dukes is a Chicago-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @1kingzdream.