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Power Rankings
They're playing much better since the break (3-2 against good teams) and Jake Arrieta definitely looked like he had "it" back on Tuesday. Dexter Fowler will be back soon and they'll likely add bullpen help in front of the deadline. My hunch is this is the team that spends the most time at number one moving forward, but I've been wrong before.
I think there's too much focus on them being around .500 since starting the year 25-6. Why? Because they were actually 47-20 before dropping 15 of their last 21. The bad stretch is the last 21 games, not everything since 25-6.
Don't confuse this for me saying he's the only reason the Cubs have been playing worse, but the record with Dexter Fowler in the starting lineup is 43-18. It's 9-13 when he's not in it.
The longest run at number one in The Official Power Rankings comes to an end, but barely. You could still make an argument for the Cubs at the top, notably with both record (still the best by percentage points) and run differential (the best in an utter landslide). For me, though, it was time. The Cubs are 25-20 (still a full-season pace of 90 wins, by the way) since their 25-6 start and though that start counts and there's every reason to believe the two rough stretches (2-6 and 1-6 with an 18-6 run in between) were simply blips on the radar, it is simply the right time for a possibly-quick demotion.
The Cubs just lost two in a row, but they still lead the NL Central by 10 1/2 games and continue to show excellent organizational depth. Willson Contreras' home run on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors was pretty cool.
On May 21 in San Francisco, Jon Lester allowed five earned runs and couldn't even make it out of the third inning. If we take out that start, he has a 1.41 ERA this season. What's that? I can't do that? OK, fine. On the year, he's 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings. Is he still overpaid?
John Lackey's 2.88 ERA is the worst among the five members of the Cubs' rotation. That mark is better than any other team's average ERA and, again, it's the worst one of the Cubs' five.
Remember last week when I said it was getting close in the race for number one? Yeah, not anymore.
The smart money is on them going on an extended run of winning again very soon. Plus, they're still on pace to win 110 games.
Every team struggles. They've built up enough credit to stay here through a short-term struggle (2-4 in last six, which includes a series win over the Pirates). There's still no reasonable case to be made for anyone else just yet. It could change by next week.
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2016 Team Leaders
AVGAnthony Rizzo , 1B.292
HRKris Bryant , 3B39
RBIAnthony Rizzo , 1B109
OBPDexter Fowler , CF.393
SLGKris Bryant , 3B.554
RKris Bryant , 3B121
SBDexter Fowler , CF13
WJon Lester , SP19
ERAKyle Hendricks , SP2.13
WHIPKyle Hendricks , SP0.98
KJon Lester , SP197
SVAroldis Chapman , RP36

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