Cubs turning heads 60 games into 2021 season


by - Staff Writer -
Rossy has his team playing good baseball (Michael Mcloone - USA Today Sports)
Rossy has his team playing good baseball (Michael Mcloone - USA Today Sports)

One year ago, the MLB’s regular season was just 60 games long — a benchmark the Chicago Cubs reached after their 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres late Monday night. Last season had various rules, regulations, and stipulations put in place due to COVID-19, and while this season has retained some of those changes, a full schedule of 162 games means that the season is not over after just 60 games like it was in 2020.

The Cubs went 34-26, won the NL Central division, and held the No. 3 seed in the National League after 60 games. Granted, eight teams made the playoffs instead of five — and four NL Central teams made the playoffs.

Dodgers

Braves

Cubs

Padres

Cardinals

Marlins

Reds

Brewers

This year the Cubs sit at 33-27, a half-game out of first place behind the Milwaukee Brewers — after holding first place for about 10 days, the Cubs have fallen a half a game back during this west coast road trip to San Francisco and San Diego. If the season ended right now — like it did last year — here is how the NL playoffs would look. The Cubs would miss the playoffs by that half-game.

Giants

Brewers

Mets

Padres

Dodgers

However, if it were a 60 game season again, eight teams would make the playoffs — giving the Cubs and an additional NL Central team a potential berth.

Giants

Brewers

Mets

Padres

Cubs

Braves

Dodgers

Cardinals

The point is, the 60 game season was wacky, and I’m glad we’re back to a 162 game slate. However, from a Cubs fan’s perspective, I am surprised that after all of the Cubs' success over this past month — solidifying themselves as a contender in the NL Central — the Cubs are actually a game worse than they were in the 60-game season in 2020.

Last year the Cubs came out of the gates hot and rode a 15-7 start all the way to a 36-24 finish and an NL Central title. The Cubs really had no players having good offensive seasons except for Ian Happ. They led the majors with innings by starting pitching — mostly because the back-end of the bullpen was such a question mark that David Ross did not trust many options to take the ball.

Ross placed third for NL Manager of the Year, and multiple Cubs took home Gold Glove awards, and the Cubs won the first-ever team Gold Glove award as well — showing that pitching and defense is still a valuable recipe to win baseball games and division titles.

This year though, the Cubs came out the gate with the worst starting rotation in the National League and the slowest starting lineup in the history of the MLB. However, since April 17th, a switch has flipped offensively, and the Cubs have been able to turn from last place to near first in the NL Central. While the starting rotation has still been ironing out some injuries and issues, David Ross’ bullpen has turned into one of the best in the league. The Cubs relievers turned in nearly 40 consecutive innings of shutout baseball in May and have been a stabilizing force for the Cubs.

This year, there seems to be more optimism around this group through sixty games — especially since some of them only have a few more months…or weeks left in a Cubs uniform. Although they are one game worse after 60 games than they were a year ago, this Cubs team has turned heads and surprised many around the league in 2021.

The good thing for them is there are 102 games left to keep it up.

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