I'm interrupting Draft Day coverage briefly because today's off day allows us to make a demarcation in the 2015 season. The Cubs are one-third of the way through the 2015 schedule... all right, one-third plus one game, having played 55 games, but this give us a chance to pause and see where they stand at this milepost. Here's Erik Peterson's look back when the Cubs were one-quarter of the way through 2015 for a comparison.
The Cubs are 30-25. Last year after 55 games they were 21-34, so they're nine games ahead of the same spot a year ago. They didn't win their 30th game of 2014 until Game 70, so you could in some ways consider them 15 games ahead of that pace. No matter how you look at it, the team is significantly improved.
At the one-quarter mark, the Cubs stood as one of the teams that would have played in the wild-card game (against the Mets) had the season ended then. Today, they stand half a game out of the second wild-card spot, behind the Giants and Pirates. Of course, anything can happen but the Cubs appear as if they can stay in that race all year. Unless a complete collapse happens, it looks like the Cardinals are going to run away with the N.L. Central, relegating the Pirates and Cubs to fight for second place. Still, the Cubs haven't finished second since 2009.
For individuals, Anthony Rizzo is on pace to have a 33-homer, 105-RBI season. With his other numbers standing at career bests, this would, at age 25, be the best year of Rizzo's career and, depending on other players, could get him some serious MVP consideration.
Three Cubs starters (Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester) are all on pace to have 200-inning seasons, with Kyle Hendricks not far behind. The last time the Cubs had more than two pitchers post 200 innings in the same season was 2003, when Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement all pushed past that mark.
It has been noted that after the All-Star break, the Cubs' schedule gets "easier." However, the Cubs have played good teams better than bad ones so far this year. The Cubs are 20-15 against teams who currently are .500 or better, just 10-10 against teams that currently have losing records.
Whether the Cubs make a deadline deal (likely for pitching help) or not remains to be seen. What we've seen so far has been a lot better baseball, and a lot more fun, than recent years, and provides much hope for the future.