Cubs faltering, but no need to worry

By Matt Verderame

The Chicago Cubs fell 4-2 to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night, and with the defeat lost their fourth consecutive game for the first time all year.

Chicago still has the best record in Major League Baseball at 47-24, but the gap is beginning to close. The San Francisco Giants are only a game and a half back of Chicago for the best record in the National League, while the Washington Nationals are sitting five games off the pace.

The good news for the Cubs is still plentiful. Chicago is far and away the best team in the NL Central, leading the second-place St. Louis Cardinals by nine games. The Cardinals certainly have the pedigree and the talent to make a run over the last three and a half months, but they don’t have the team that resides on the North Side.

For Cubs fans, there is always the lingering fear that something horrible is going to happen. How could they not feel that way? This is a team that won the World Series in both 1907 and 1908, and then never again. The Cubs have showed promise before and gone into October as a favorite, only to see everything fall apart.

While that could happen, there is no reason to genuinely believe that is going to happen in 2016. Chicago is one of the better teams we have seen amassed in the new century. The starting rotation is loaded with the likes of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey at the top. The lineup has all kinds of hitting and power between Ben Zobrist, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and others. This team can play, and is led by a terrific manager with World Series experience in Joe Maddon.

The National League has some other very good teams, but none that will keep Chicago from making the playoffs. At the end of it all, that’s all that matters for a team looking to make history.

At the moment, the Cubs are still 23 games over the .500 mark and have no reason to think the end is near. Yeah, the team has lost four straight games, but every squad will go through hard times throughout a long, 162-game season. The 1998 New York Yankees, the team most believe is the greatest of the last 50 years, began the campaign by getting swept at home.

Chicago will have another bad stretch or two going forward. The Cubs will also have a month where they win 20 games and look like they might not lose another game. It’s the way a baseball season unfolds.