The Cubs giving Chicago hope

Cody Bellinger roaming center field at Wrigley
Cody Bellinger roaming center field at Wrigley

Chicago Cubs fans are used to mediocrity. They’re used to 3rd or 4th place finishes in the division and no excitement within the team. 2016 was a dream, and it seems like they’ll never be back to what they once were. This year, the fans have noticed that this team really could be special.

At the beginning of the MLB season, the Cubs were projected to finish 19th place out of 30 teams. Now, they’re sitting in 11th place and second in their respective division. While they still ended up missing out on the playoffs this year, they exceeded everybody’s pre-season expectations.

What really made them rise above the doubt and prove all the experts and analysts wrong?

Jay Zawaski, managing editor of podcasts and multimedia for WBBM Newsradio, believes that it wasn’t just one factor, it was a couple that got them rolling and it just took off. 

He believes that the beginning of the “snowball” that the Cubs had was center fielder, Cody Bellinger, coming back from injury. “Having an MVP level bat, it kinda fixes everything,” Zawaski said. 

Bellinger’s red hot bat has not slowed down one bit. He really hit his stride in July, winning National League Player of the Month. Now he currently has the 7th highest OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) in all of the MLB. Once that spark lit, it just continued throughout the entire lineup.

With the team being so hot this year, there have to be some names sticking out for them. 

Zawaski said that the person who stuck out the most was Adbert Alzolay, stating that, “he is a bonafide reliable closer.” 

At the beginning of the year, they didn’t have a real closing pitcher. Adbert stepped up and showed he could be the everyday closer. 

It really hurt the team as a whole when he went down with an injury. He went down with a right forearm strain, and was placed on the injured list on Sept. 11.

The closing pitcher is one of the most important players on the team, especially later in the season to win the close games. Jay Zawaski said, “They’ve been able to turn to him with no hesitation at all.” 

His ERA (average earned runs per 9 innings) is 2.80, which is by far the best he’s had in his career. He is one of the main reasons why they’ve been able to win so many close games.

The other person that was really surprising this year was Justin Steele. He’s always been just a “good” pitcher but for some reason he’s taken a massive leap this year.

Zawaski said, “Everyone knew he was good but didn’t know if he could be a true ace or not, and now he is second in Cy Young odds and has a legitimate chance to win it.” 

He has the second lowest ERA in the MLB with a 2.55 ERA. Every game he pitches, he comes out and dominates the other team. That pushed our entire team to step up with him, and that success led to several wins.

Overall, the Cubs have shocked everyone that follows baseball. This team just figured out how to win together and could have been an exciting team in the playoffs. 

This team showed a lot and could be a legitimate contender within the next couple years. They have the tools in the minor leagues, with star outfielder, Pete Crow-Armstrong, ranking 12th in the entire MLB pipeline.

But with all the good that came from this season, the bad shines brighter for the Cubs.

At one point of the season, they had a 92% chance of making the playoffs. They played their worst baseball all year, at the most important time of the season.

The choke that they had just continues to show that the Cubs will always be cursed, and 2016 was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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