By: Hector Duran
The Cubs went 4-3 this past week by taking 2 out of 3 games from the Athletics and then splitting a 4-game series with the Reds in Cincinnati. The Cubs still hold first place (2 games up over the Cardinals and 2.5 games up on the Brewers) which is all that really matters at this point. The starting pitching was not as solid as the previous week, but they overall had themselves a decent week. The bullpen is facing some injuries as Craig Kimbrel, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler are on the injured list and Kyle Ryan is on the bereavement list. The offense has looked solid and the defense has made some nice plays. One player who had himself a week was Aristides Aquino. He is quickly making Reds fans forget about Yasiel Puig and he had himself a huge series.
Nicholas Castellanos has been tearing it up this past week and over his last 7 games he is slashing .400/.438/.933 with 4 home runs, 9 runs scored, and 12 hits. He has been an everyday player and has seen time in both left field and right field and his bat has been a spark for the offense hitting in the top of the order.
Ian Happ has made the necessary adjustments to have success at the big-league level and the results are starting to show. Over his last 7 games, Happ is slashing .391/.391/1.000 with 10 RBI, 4 home runs, and some timely hitting. One downside is that Happ has not drawn a walk in the last week which has always been a concern for him. The strikeout rate is down as he has only struck out 4 times in the past 7 games. His versatility is the key if he wants to stay up in the majors.
The Week Ahead
The Cubs will continue their road trip with 3 games in Philadelphia followed by 3 games in Pittsburgh. The Phillies are just 2 games back of a wild card spot, so they are going to be looking for some wins, but they have been struggling as they have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Pirates, after being in the thick of a wild car spot around the all-star break, have already had their 2nd half meltdown as they are on an 8-game losing streak and 13.5 games out of a wild card spot. The Cubs should be able to take advantage of these struggling teams and put some wins together. 4-2 would be a fair assessment but if they can go 5-1, then even better.