With the Aug. 1 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Chicago Cubs are amidst the season’s most important stretch. The team sits at 49-51, third place in the National League Central, and only five games out of a postseason spot.
The Cubs have played well recently, which has put them in a position to buy at the trade deadline potentially. The team is 6-1 against the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago White Sox since July 18.
So much of the team’s success has come from star outfielder Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger has been dominant since the start of July but has been exceptionally important during the team’s recent stretch. Bellinger is 6-16 with 10 RBI in the Cubs’ current four-game win streak.
More exceptionally, Bellinger is batting .429/.447/.753 during July with seven home runs, 23 RBI, and scored 18 runs himself.
Bellinger is back to MVP form, which is similar to his early seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cody saw impressive regression during his later years in LA, allowing the Cubs to snag him for $17.5 million during the offseason.
Not to mention, he provides All-MLB-caliber defense at both first base and center field.
The rise of Palatine, Illinois, native center fielder Mike Tauchman has allowed the Cubs to place Bellinger at either position on any given day. Tauchman’s rise fills a hole at both positions, which the Cubs have needed since the glorious mid-2010s.
Now, the Cubs look to be back in contention, with numerous other core pieces on the roster.
Starting pitchers Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman received All-Star bids and have been vital to the Cubs’ 2023 resurgence. Stroman leads MLB with 15 quality starts, his 3.09 ERA ranks him third in the NL, and he’s fourth in the National League with 10 wins. Justin Steele’s 2.95 ERA is second in the National League and tied for fourth in the NL with 10 wins.
The following five games are against the White Sox and Cardinals. There is no reason to sell if the team can manage a 4-1 or better record during that span. The National League Central is wide open and ready for grabbing. Anything can happen once a team makes the postseason.
The Cubs’ upcoming week is even more important as the schedule gets much more difficult in early August. The team will begin a four-game set against division rival Cincinnati on July 31, then play a three-game series rivaling the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Toronto Blue Jays.
If the Cubs want to remain in the playoff hunt come mid-August, taking a majority of games this week will have to remain a priority.
Still, the Cubs are playing arguably their best team baseball in the most crucial stretch of the season. A win on Wednesday night against the White Sox would be their fifth in a row, tying their highest streak of the season.
The end of this week might determine the fate of the 2023 Chicago Cubs.