Cubs Vying for Title of Best Team in Baseball Following Slow Start to 2019 MLB Season

By Ian McCafferty
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo

Cover Photo: Getty Images

About a month ago, the Chicago Cubs were left for dead. The team fell to 2-7 with a 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on April 7, a game that closed out a nine-game road trip to start the season. Changes had to be made or 2019 could end up being a lost year for the team on the North Side of Chicago.

Now, on May 6, the Cubs sit atop the NL Central and might be the best team in the Majors.

After going 17-5 over the last 22 games, including seven wins in a row, the Cubs finally leapfrogged the Cardinals for the top spot in the NL Central with a 13-5 win on "Sunday Night Baseball."

The biggest difference for Chicago during this month-long hot streak has been the team's pitching. During the first nine games, the Cubs gave up 7.7 runs per game. Since then, they've given up 2.8 runs per game. In fact, Chicago has given up 10 fewer runs in the last 22 games than it did in the first nine games of the season. That includes five shutouts during that stretch as well.

And it hasn't just been a turnaround from the Cubs' starting pitchers as the bullpen has suddenly become the No. 1 unit in MLB.

The team's bats have followed suit, scoring 7.9 runs per game, during the Cubs' current seven-game winning streak.

Javier Baez is playing like an NL MVP candidate again, with a .316 batting average, 11 home runs and 26 RBI while serving as the team's cleanup hitter for much of the season. Batting behind Baez is catcher Willson Contreras, who is hitting .311 with nine home runs and 21 RBI. And while Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are both batting around .240, they've combined for 12 homers and 44 RBI. The meat of the Cubs' order is scary good right now.

Chicago can win games a lot of different ways, with a combined starter's ERA under 3.00, arguably the best bullpen in the league and an offense that can put up double-digit runs on any given day.

While they might not have the best record in baseball – that belongs to the 21-12 Tampa Bay Rays – it's about time we recognize the Cubs as a World Series contender with a real chance at winning the NL Pennant.

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Ian McCafferty is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ian McCafferty also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username itmccaff. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.