The Chicago Cubs were fading for a few years after they broke a 108-yard drought by winning the 2016 World Series.
Cody Bellinger’s downward plane wasn’t as long, but he was far from his National League MVP year of 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs and Bellinger have teamed up this season, and the results have been good for both parties. The Cubs (77-67) are second in the National League wild-card race thanks, in part, to Bellinger’s resurgence.
They will continue their postseason push when they open a three-game series at the Colorado Rockies (51-91) on Monday night in Denver.
Chicago will send Jordan Wicks (3-0, 2.16 ERA) to the mound against Kyle Freeland (6-14, 5.09) in a matchup of left-handers on Monday.
The Cubs could be without infielder Jeimer Candelario, who left Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks due to back tightness. Chicago has listed him as day-to-day.
Bellinger’s high-water mark came in 2019 when he hit 47 home runs, drove in 115 runs and batted .305, but he fell off the next few years, including hitting a career-low .165 in 2021. A change of cities has done wonders for him; he is batting .318 this season and on Sunday hit his 25th home run.
Bellinger also had a steal Saturday night to give him at least 20 homers and 20 steals for the first time in his career.
His homer on Sunday helped stop the Cubs’ three-game skid and keep them within reach of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. The Cubs trail the Brewers by three games.
“You know, for us, try to pick it up a little bit, do our part and as an offense help the team win, we did a good job,” Bellinger said after Sunday’s game.
Another important contributor has been Wicks, who will make his first career appearance against the Rockies. Wicks made his major league debut Aug. 26 and has been a good addition to the rotation.
Colorado had hoped that Kris Bryant would be a consistent part of the lineup when he signed a seven-year deal with the team in March 2022, but his time with the Rockies has been filled with injuries. He appeared in just 42 games in 2022 and has played in only 65 this season.
Bryant has played outfield in his time with Colorado, but when he returns from a finger injury, possibly against his former team, he might see time at first base.
“One of Kris’ advantages as a player — this is well-documented when he was with the Cubs — is he played all over,” Rockies manager Bud Black said recently.
Freeland’s career highlight moment came when he started the 2017 NL wild-card game against Chicago, a game Colorado won in extra innings. He has struggled this season but has won two of his last three decisions, including the Rockies’ only victory on the just-completed six-game road trip that was capped with a 6-3 loss to San Francisco on Sunday night.
Freeland is 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA in four career regular-season starts against the Cubs.
–Field Level Media