While they did miss out on a sweep of their “arch” rival, the Chicago Cubs head into their next stretch of games with their first series win in a calendar year. With the return of Jake Arrieta over the weekend, the Cubs’ rotation does set up nicely now with five quality arms. Will Chicago be able to build some momentum against some good quality opponents?
Over the next few weeks, the Cubs will face their cross-town rivals the Chicago White Sox, NL East leading Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals again, the division leading Milwaukee Brewers and finish with two games against the New York Yankees. Including the just completed weekend series, it is a challenging 19-game stretch in a 20-day span.
Ace Jeff Samardzija will begin the series against the Sox. With the burden of a series win now behind them, the Cubs will now turn their attention to finally getting Samardzija a victory. The right-hander is currently riding a 12-start winless streak dating back to last season. However, it has not been all his fault. Samardzija has certainly pitched well enough to earn a few wins in the process. In his six starts this year, the Cubs have scored a total of 11 runs in support, or lack thereof.
Following Samardzija will be Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Arrieta and Jason Hammel. The current setup allows the Cubs to have three viable deep-inning guys in Samardzija, Wood and Hammel go every other day with Jackson and Arrieta staggered in between. Arrieta will need a few starts to build up his arm at the big-league level, and Jackson is slotted into a good spot to try and produce more consistent results.
Good starting pitching will give the Cubs an opportunity to go out and win some games. That was evident by a series win over the weekend to start a grueling stretch in the schedule. Now healthy, the rotation is set up well to perhaps win a few more series over the next few weeks and build some momentum in the process.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.