There’s something not quite right with the World Series favourites lately. In truth, the Cincinnati Reds should have crumbled to the Cubs in the series but instead claimed the series with a 5-3 victory at Wrigley Field.
So what is the Cubs problems?
“You don’t execute a pitch and a guy hits a three-run homer and that’s that. I can’t connect a bunch of negative thoughts. It happened. I think it is a snapshot [of the season] and I’m not overly concerned.” Joe Maddon said.
That is perhaps, all there is to it. Of course there are injuries. We all know that a healthy team has a better chance of winning but what about that infamous Grind as outlined in Barry Svrluga’s book? Baseball’s an endless season. It’s the same length as hockey but it feels longer. They play almost everyday. Think about it. From the beginning of March to the end of October, there’s baseball on pretty much all of the time. Players go down with injury.
But is it enough?
No. If they win the World Series this season, it’ll be on the bullpen. The hitting will get them there but the grind will be the bullpen.
“We have to really be vigilant not to abuse anybody and make sure everyone is fresh,” Maddon said. “It starts with the starting pitchers. If the starters are on, the rest of the game is going to play well.”
The problem is that in the first couple of months, the pitching has been exceptional. The bullpen hasn’t been used as much but now that the grind of the season is beginning to wear on the staff, the bullpen is a little bit green.
“I believe that the talent pool is absolutely here,” Maddon said. “We know Clayton Richard is able to do that. Getting Justin Grimm back on the mound [is important]. Grimm is one of our lefties actually. We have it right here. We just have to get the performance. We will. I feel confident.”
Maybe it is there and maybe it isn’t there. With the trade deadline approaching on July 31st and Dexter Fowler expected to return soon, the Cubs are going to make a blockbuster deal much like the deal that catapulted the Toronto Blue Jays into October last season. I’m confident that a big name closer is coming to Chicago’s North Side. I’m almost sure that another big bat is going to be squeezed into the middle of the lineup come the deadline.
The Cubs have seven All Stars for Tuesday’s classic. Any one of those all stars will trade that in for the big prize.