Earlier this month, Cubs manager Joe Maddon used the phrase “big boy time” with reference to how he planned to distribute playing time after the July 31 trade deadline.
Joe Maddon says the time has come and gone in the season to play guys for developmental purposes: “It’s big boy time.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 1, 2019
This phrase has taken on new meaning following a three-game sweep by the Washington Nationals to close out the Cubs’ most recent homestand. While the Northsiders were losing, the St. Louis Cardinals have won four straight to take a 2.5 game lead in the Central Division standings.
The next week will be crucial to ensure the Cubs do not enter September even further behind. They will head to New York for three games against the Mets and then return home for a weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers to close out the month. If the Cubs want to regain ground and have a chance to retake the pennant, they will need to have a good showing on the road in their upcoming series against a current playoff hopeful.
The Mets series looks especially tough given that New York’s top three starting pitchers are the probables for this series: Marcus Stroman (7-11, 3.18 ERA) on Tuesday; Noah Syndergaard (9-6, 3.71 ERA) on Wednesday; and reigning Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (8-7, 2.56 ERA) on Thursday. These pitchers have helped New York rise in the standings to 2.0 games out of the second Wild Card slot, which is currently occupied by the Cubs.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon has noted the team will need to perform at a high level to be successful in this upcoming series:
Maddon, on Stroman, Syndergaard and deGrom looming next for Cubs:
"We have to rise to the occasion. We're going to see three really good pitchers there and a team that's really come from a long ways back to be in the position that they are."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 26, 2019
The Northsiders’ first true road series victory since May 19 (the August 18 series finale at Pittsburgh was played at a neutral site) in New York against three tough pitchers would go a long way towards proving this team has what it takes. If the Cubs are unable to grind out road wins against three of MLB’s best, they should not expect to play many games in October.
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