The Cubs finish off a quick six-game road trip with a three-game sweep of the Pirates in Pittsburgh. They won 5 of 6 games on the road trip and are currently tied for NL Central, as they await the outcome of the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks Thursday night.
The series in Pittsburgh was highlighted by Javier Baez and his never before seen base running as he avoided a tag from Pirates first basemen Will Craig by running back towards home allowing Willson Contreras to score from 2nd. Javy was able to take 2nd base on the play while making the entire Pittsburgh Pirates team look incredibly bad.
The sweep of the Pirates puts the Cubs at a record of 27-22, including 15-7 in May. Chicago Cubs’ starting pitchers have a collective ERA of 3.44 in May, compared to a 5.81 ERA in April. If that doesn’t tell you enough of the story, the Cubs bullpen hasn’t allowed an earned run in 34.2 innings. The Cubs bullpen has an ERA of 1.73 in May and a season ERA of 2.90. The latter is 3rd best in the entire league.
I personally have been critical of the way Cubs Manager David Ross has managed the Cubs pitchers, mainly with how early he pulls his starters. Early in April, the argument didn’t have much to stand on because the starting pitching was bottom of the league, but even as the starting rotation is improving he still tends to have a quick leash on starters. To date, the Cubs have only had one starting pitcher throw over 100 pitches. To play devil’s advocate, what he is doing is working. He continues to get relievers into clean innings with little to no inherited runners, and they are thriving. That is a credit to the pitching staff, as they have been able to limit traffic and close out wins.
With the strides the Cubs have made in the NL Central and just having won a series in St.Louis, I am officially done listening to any talks of who the Cubs will trade at the deadline. The Cubs have the 2nd best record in the MLB in May at 15-7 with each loss only coming by one run. This team is capable of winning the NL Central, and if you don’t agree then you haven’t watched them in May. It’s as simple as that. Kris Bryant is playing at an MVP level slashing .320/.405/.604 and has an OPS of 1.009 which is top 5 in the entire MLB. The Cubs are doing this despite poor injury luck. Four Cub position players are on the Injured List: Jason Heyward, Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner, and Jake Marisnick. Adding on to that is Anthony Rizzo who was out of the lineup for the last two games in Pittsburgh with back tightness that is different than back issues he has had in the past. Hopefully, he can avoid the IL, and Marisnick can come back soon to help with our bench depth. Until further notice, the only trade deadline talks I will entertain relating to the Cubs are them being buyers and who they can add to help them win the NL Central.