Last weekend's  on-field results against the Cardinals don’t show it, but the Cubs are getting better.  

After watching last weekend's Cards-Cubs series, the current Cubs remind me a lot of the 2012 and 2013 Kansas City Royals. There are a lot of good, young position players just getting bearings in the major leagues.  Those 23 to 25 year olds will very likely improve as they gain experience. The weekend was my first extended look at  Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant. Two things got my attention. His strikeout total of 87 strikeouts in 66 games isn't a plus. That needs to improve. However, Bryant is impressive when he puts the ball in play. He needs to be putting the ball in play more often. Cutting down on the whiffs is the way to do that. That should come with experience.

Cub pitching is pretty decent, especially compared with some Cub staffs I can think of over the decades. They’re  8th overall  in team ERA at 3.42.  The problem is, that’s the third best earned run average in the National League Central. The Cardinals lead all of baseball with a team ERA of 2.61. Pittsburgh is second at 2.91. Pitching quality is telling the tale in the NL Central so far. Look no farther amongst the stats to explain the current standings.

The next challenge for the Cubs and General Manager Theo Epstein is to build and maintain a solid pitching staff.  What the Cubs have is enough to be in the race. Nothing more. Improvement is needed. Problem is, there isn’t a lot of quality pitching out there in the major leagues that people are willing to part with at a reasonable price. We’ve seen a nice run of position players out of the Cub farm system recently. Now it’s time for the Cubs to come up with some high quality home grown pitching.

I'm a Cardinal fan, but it is easy for me to recognize that annual races for the National League Central Division title between the Cardinals and Cubs would be very good for baseball.