The Cubs beat the Phillies on Monday, 6-4, to move their record to an amazing 40-16 on the young season. That's a .714 winning percentage, good for a 116-win pace. That would be the most wins since the 2001 Seattle Mariners won exactly that many and, hey, that's topical here. Because ...

Those Mariners actually got off to a much better start, remarkably. They were 40-12 when they won their 40th game, but that was in the midst of a 15-game winning streak that would run the record to 47-12. They wouldn't lose their 16th game (again, the Cubs have 16 losses right now) until they had won 52.

Obviously, this level of regular-season success in the early going doesn't guarantee postseason success, as the Mariners would lose the ALCS to the Yankees in five games. Let's keep in mind those were the dynasty Yankees, however, and that it would be lunacy to argue that result as some sort of reason why the Cubs can't win the World Series.

As for the Cubs to this point, they've been pretty great at everything but Monday night seems a good time to point out the rotation's insane success in 2016.

Jon Lester worked eight scoreless innings, a second-straight brilliant outing. Overall, the Cubs' rotation ERA right now is a ridiculous 2.33. How impressive is that? Well ...

As for this season, no other rotation ERA in baseball is below 3.00. To reiterate, the Cubs are at 2.33 with no one else south of three.

The individual ERAs:

  1. Jake Arrieta, 1.80
  2. Jon Lester, 2.06
  3. Jason Hammel, 2.14
  4. Kyle Hendricks, 2.84
  5. John Lackey, 2.88

No one has missed a start due to injury and each of the five have worked at least 63 innings thus far. The pitching staff as a whole is helped by the best defense in the NL by defensive efficiency and WAR. They rank second behind the Giants in defensive runs saved.

There's a lot of attention given to the offense, but the Cubs ability to keep runs off the board with their great rotation and defense is what has been leading the charge thus far in 2016. It was on full display with Lester's outing on Monday night, pushing the Cubs to a 10-game lead in the NL Central and the best start in Major League Baseball in 15 years.

The Cubs keep rolling. USATSI