Even though the Cubs (61-40) acquired Aroldis Chapman this week – and even though he looked dominant in his first couple of appearances – Cubs fans have reason to worry. That’s because the Cardinals (55-47) trail them by just six-and-a-half games in the NL Central, and there’s still a whole lot of baseball left to be played.
“That’s the one issue when you get off to as good a start as the Cubs did,” Bleacher Report MLB writer Danny Knobler said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “When you start (so hot), it’s not going to continue all year, and yet, when you do that, you have to win. The Cubs got off to a spectacular start. The Cubs have a very good team. The Cubs made what so far was the deal of the deadline getting Aroldis Chapman. In fact, I had a guy say to me today that’s what will get them to the World Series, making that trade. But there are going to be times during the season when you don’t play as well. The way the baseball season goes, it’s 162 games. There are going to be times when you’re going to be challenged a little bit. The Cubs have had a little bit of that, but the Cubs are still really good. The Cubs got what they needed when they got Chapman. I don’t think Theo Epstein is done looking for help, but he got what he really did need.”
While the Cubs have cooled off a bit after their torrid start, the Cardinals are 11-5 over their last 16 games.
“The Cardinals are a good team,” Knobler said. “Adam Wainwright has had a great month after not pitching as well before. They have (pitching prospect Alex) Reyes in the minor leagues who everyone raves about who could come up and be a factor. I know the Cardinals have talent. But I would also say that if I were the Cubs, I wouldn’t be worried. I’d think I was (in pretty good position).”
The Cubs host the Cardinals in a four-game series at Wrigley Field on Aug. 11-14.
While getting Chapman was a great addition for the Cubs, don’t expect many blockbuster trades before the deadline involving arms. Last year, David Price, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, among others, were traded at the deadline. This year, names like Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi just aren’t as exciting.
“It was always going to be that way this year for a simple reason,” Knobler said. “A lot of what happens in July is based on what’s going to happen over the winter. Teams are much more motivated to trade guys when they’re out of the race if they’re going to be free agents. The reason the Yankees were so motivated to get an Aroldis Chapman deal done was because he’s a free agent at the end of the year. Well, there aren’t any starting pitchers on that list this year. Last year, there were.”