Cubs: Strong Week Widens Division Lead, Team Slowly Regains Health

Justin Dukes covers the Chicago Cubs and their developments for

With the Cubs recent sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays and taking two out of three over the series with the Cincinati Reds, their division lead over the second place rival Milwaukee Brewers now sits at three games. The current winning comes at a perfect time with several players still yet to return from the disabled list.

Coming in to the final game of their series with the Reds confident they could extend their winning streak to six the team left Wrigley empty handed, yet still confident.

With a 1 run lead in the eighth inning, the Reds were able to gain the lead through timely plays from infielder Jose Pereza, second baseman Ryan Gennett and first baseman Adam Duvall. In spite of the late mistakes by the team effecting his win total, pitcher Jake Arrieta maintained his optimism as the team moves on to Philadelphia.

“Lost a tough one tonight, but we go into Philly still feeling pretty good about the way we’re throwing the ball, the way we’re swinging the bats, the way we’re catching the ball,” Arrieta told the press afterwards.

While he won’t be available for the upcoming series against the Phillies, shortstop Addison Russell should be returning to the lineup in the next week or two, plantar fasciitis has sidelined Russell since the beginning of August.

“In the back of my mind, I’m moving in the right direction, kind of quicker than anticipated. We’ll just keep on this progression and we’ll see where we’re at,” Russell told the Chicago Sun Times earlier this week.

Pitchers Job Lester and Justin Grimm, each suffering from shoulder fatigue and a finger infection respectively, should be back much sooner. Scheduled for bullpen sessions, the Cubs expect Lester to be back the first week of September while Grimm is still being evaluated.

The last name occupying the DL for the Cubs in catcher Willson Contreras in all likelihood will be vacant by the middle of September. Contreras has been inactive for the past two weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against the San Francisco Giants. Sticking to sprints and several other running drills since the initial injury, Contreras has been making steady progress.

Even without these three players, the Cubs, at least on paper, should be able to manage against the Phillies, who have the worst record in the majors.

However, with talented names such as outfielders Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins and first baseman Tommy Joseph, this team could pose a threat to the division lead the Cubs hope to hold on to.

Justin Dukes is a Chicago-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @1kingzdream.

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