The 2017 Chicago Cubs. A skeptical topic in the sports world this year. From a team that went 103-58 in 2016, to a peak and valley team in 2017, it’s hard to admit that the Cubs most certainly have not been the team that every fan expected to watch in 2017. It has been a tough ride this season, with the team barely holding onto first place in the NL Central, the team is going to have to take big strides if they want to secure a playoff berth for the 3rd consecutive year. Everyone knows that it is nearly impossible for a team to have a duplicate season back-to-back with the bar already set at a towering height. Even a team filled with 5+ all stars, a 2016 team ERA of 3.51, and 2016 team batting average of .256,  it is seen that despite all of this teams will struggle. This struggle was seen in a big way when the team started off the season with a first inning ERA of 10.46 by May, averaging about one and half runs every first inning of a game. Cubs fans, like myself began to question the season very early.

Regardless, we all still had faith. We all said “hey it’s early.” But as May passed and quickly June, the Cubs approached the all star break two games under .500 and Milwaukee with the upper hand sitting in first place in the NL Central. As the break came to a close, not only the fans, but the players too looked forward to the second half knowing they would have to indeed step it up if they wanted to make another playoff run. Tampa Bay’s manager Kevin Cash reflected on the Cubs first half saying something I am certain everyone had going through their mind. He stated:

“Pretty surprising. They’re not a .500 club. I think all of baseball knows that. They’re going to get hot. … I’ve read (Joe Maddon’s) quotes and there’s a lot of belief, and there should be a lot of belief. This team is as talented as anybody.”

While everyone had their own opinion on the reason why the Cubs were struggling, realistically there was no true sense to be made of the reason the Cubs could not find their groove.

When the second half kicked in the cubs took 14 out of the first 20 and things were starting to look up once again. Back on track and back on top of the NL central the Cubs regained focus and fans once again became focused on the playoffs. With the pick up of Jose Quintana they added much needed depth to the bullpen that was lacking in the first half.

But once again, the Cubs hit another skid, losing 9 of 16 to start august with an average a little over 3 runs in those 9 games, 6 of those games with 3 or less runs scored. It was clear they were lacking offense. Still though they held onto first, St. Louis and Milwaukee barely trailing in the race the Cubs tried to tread on and maintain their spot through August.

Finishing August on a 4 game win streak, and taking 2 more in September they gained a lead that was breathable for the time being. That until, they played Milwaukee this past weekend in which they got swept and once again their lead in the Central was diminished.

So that takes us to today, mid-September with less than 20 games remaining until the playoffs and Milwaukee not hanging up the towel on their season the Cubs must prove that they want it more than everyone else. For me, winning the world series was most certainly not enough. The Cubs are a high caliber team, more than capable of competing and winning big in the playoffs once again. With Contreras back in the lineup and the hope of the return of shortstop Addison Russell; who has been out since early August with a foot injury, the Cubs have high hopes.

These last few weeks of the season will designate the Cubs as a team of perseverance or a team that gets October off for 2017. Whether it be World Series Repeats or not, the Cubs must step-it-up if they truly want to have a memorable run in the 2017 postseason.

Derek Pietrowski

twitter/Instagram- dpietrowski02

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