Starting pitching has been the key to the Cubs’ hot streak

The Chicago Cubs have played some of their best baseball of the season since the All-Star Break, putting together an 8-2 record since the midsummer classic.

One of the biggest reasons for the hot streak is the club’s starting pitching.

In fact, those starters have been fantastic in this Cubs run out of the All-Star Break and are giving us flashbacks to last season.

Even with just 4.1 innings of decent pitching from Kyle Hendricks on Monday in his return from the disabled list, the starting rotation has been stellar as of late.

The numbers are especially impressive considering it hasn’t just been one or two arms dominating opponents and skewing the numbers. Everyone is contributing to the strong run.

Jose Quintana has been the focal point of the team in this stretch due to the blockbuster trade in which he was acquired. He’s lived up to the hype in his small sample of starts with the Cubs, with a .77 WHIP and .182 opponent batting average in two starts.

Of all the starters the Cubs currently have, the most important one to see succeeding may be Jake Arrieta. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner struggled early this season but has been much stronger as of late.

In four starts since July 2, Arrieta has an ERA of 2.13 (compared to 4.11 for the season as a whole), a .91 WHIP and a .170 opponent batting average. With three quality starts in those four appearances, Arrieta is pitching at a higher level than he has all season.

As previously stated, everybody is contributing to the strong second half start for the North Siders. Even John Lackey, who has been the albatross around the staff’s neck this season, has been decent at worst this month.

While the stats are nice so far in the second half, consistency is the key. Impressive wins followed by rough losses was the norm in the first half, a large reason why the Cubs floundered near .500 for most of it.

Anyone who’s watched these pitchers over the last couple of seasons knows how good each one can be. Now, the focus can’t be on just playing up to that standard sometimes, but instead always reaching it.

For the Cubs’ sake, there are some good signs as of late, even when considering the small sample size. Notably, the first-inning woes that plagued the starters in the first half have been nonexistent in the second thus far.

The bats have been waking up, which is critically important, but the starting pitching needs a strong stretch run for the Cubs to make a deep run in October again this year.

It’s early in the second half, but things are looking bright for now for the Cubs starting pitchers.

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