The Cubs surged into (or do you say the Brewers stumbled out of) first place in the NL Central. And, by a matter of mathematical magic, the Cubs have the best record in the NL.
But the consensus is that the Cubs lofty position was more to blind luck and a weak league than a juggernaut of goodness.
Bryant and Rizzo are having sub-par seasons.
Hendricks and Quintana have regressed from last season.
Chatwood has been a wild pitching machine disaster.
Darvish is MIA.
On the plus side, Baez has become the MLB poster boy for fun, on offense, defensive and on the base paths. How many runners can score from first on a stolen base attempt of second?
Lester is pitching well. Morrow has not blown up his arm (yet). Montgomery has been a pleasant surprise in the rotation as the emergency, long-term sixth starter (but even he is beginning to wear down).
We have been lulled to think that Russell, Schwarber, Happ and Almora are having better than expected seasons. The Cubs are near the top in offensive stats, but a lot of their games have either been feast or famine HR contests or a streak of series of oppo-hits, merry-go-round the line up crooked innings.
Pundits believe the Cubs history of having a .660 second half will happen again. The team should cruise to the playoffs. But the Brewers are still better than most people thought they would be. They are one or two trades away from making the race closer than comfort.
And this second half of 2018 has a new components: Rizzo and Bryant must have nagging injuries (back and shoulder); Darvish may be a big-city head case; Contreras may not live up to the hype as the next Molina; and the bullpen has been overworked early because of the poor collective starts of the rotation.
The Cubs are favored to win the NL and should be able to accomplish that feat.
But the Dodgers got Machado in a trade, and the American League is stacked with All-Star Teams (Astros, Red Sox and Yankees). It is not going to be an easy October run.