On April 7th the Chicago Cubs just completed a 3 game series in Milwaukee in which they dropped 2 of 3 and fell to 2-7 on the season. While baseball is a 162 game season and many great teams go on 2-7 runs at some point there was a lot of uneasiness among Cubs fans about this team. While the offense was performing well in this stretch the pitching was horrendous most notably the bullpen. With Brandon Morrow still on the Injury List and guys like CJ Edwards, Pedro Strop and Mike Montgomery all shaky there was a lot of uncertainty once the 7th inning came around.
Fast forward to 2 weeks later on April 27th and the Cubs had begun to show some signs of improvement sitting at 12-12 and in the middle of a 3 game series in Arizona. The starting pitching had begun to get things going and there were guys in the bullpen starting to step it up. The Cubs went on to win that game 9-1 behind Yu Darvis' best start of the season going 6 innings and just giving up 1 run.
Fast forward to today and the Cubs have now won 11 of the past 13 games including a 3 game sweep over the then first place St. Louis Cardinals. The Starting pitching has been phenomenal, the Bullpen has found its stride and the "Big 4" in the middle of the line up of Bryant, Rizzo, Baez and Contreras have been on fire. The Cubs offense will always go through those 4 guys and with the power returning for Bryzzo finally and continuing for "Contraez" the middle of the line up is carrying this team right now.
In the bullpen the Cubs have had a few guys really start to step up most notably Brandon Kintzler, Brad Bach, and Steve Cishek all who have ERA's at 3.00 or below and most importantly have only given up 3 HR over 51.2 combined IP. Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr are both back from injury and have combined for 8 shut out innings over the past week since their returns. While Pedro Strop is on the IL for what appears to be a non-serious injury it seems like for the time being the Cubs have enough going in the pen to feel good about what's coming over the next few weeks.
Over the course of this 13 game run there have been a few key moments that have really sparked the cubs run which I'll look at below:
Hendricks 81 pitch masterpiece: In the first game against St. Louis last weeks Kyle Hendricks threw the best performance of any Cubs pitcher all year going 9 shut out innings on just 81 pitches.
Davis Grand Slam: As the tweet says, a game tying grand slam is a pretty good time for your first home run. In a game that looked like was gonna go to the Cardinals, Taylor Davis came up with the biggest hit of his life tying the game in the 4th inning with this grand slam before Javy Baez ended up hitting the game winning grand slam a few innings later. This was a huge moment that flipped the momentum of the game and led to the sweep over St. Louis.
Bryant walk off: This one was huge because not only did it avoid an 0-2 start to the Marlins series but it also showed that Kris Bryant is back to his usual self. Over the past week before this he had shown signs of his usual self but this sealed the deal and let the rest of the league know that the former MVP is back to his MVP ways.
Heyward walk off: Jason Heyward has been one of the biggest surprises of the season on the offensive end and while he is one of the few guys going through a cold slump at the moment he has still had a very solid first month and a half. With 6 home runs already none was bigger than the one he hit Wednesday night against Miami.
Contreras walk off: After dropping game one against the Brewers the Cubs were in jeopardy of starting off 1-4 against Milwaukee until a 15th inning home run put the Cubs on top of the Brewers in a long and cold pitching battle and more importantly put the Cubs on top of the division once again.