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The Cubs have won four their first six games after the All-Star break, two wins from the Rangers and two wins from the Mets. Prior to the break, the Cubs were in a bad way, losing to pretty much everyone they played. For nearly a month the Cubs were a sub .500 team starting back in June. Were it not for their historic start, the chatter surrounding the Cubs would be very different this season.

The Cubs are now, for the most part, rested from their break. Ben Zobrist was given a few days off after the break, but the rest of the regular starters returned to action. According to Carrie Muskat, Joe Maddon did this to further rest Zobrist. The Cubs did not need him though, as they finally snapped the streak of eight consecutive wins that the Mets had over the Cubs, including the 2015 playoffs.

The Cubs were without Dexter Fowler during their current stretch, and have been without him for some time. Coach Joe Maddon expects star Outfielder Dexter Fowler to return to the starting lineup by the end of the week, Carrie Muskat reports. Fowler has been out for some time. As the Cubs regular lead-off hitter and starting centerfielder, his presence is sorely missed.

Albert Almora has been taking Fowler’s place in his absence, gaining valuable experience, and putting up respectable numbers. He has a .265 batting average, 22 hits, and 2 home runs (as of 7/20). While he hasn’t been spectacular and gained Kyle Schwarber-like hype, he has done well in his impromptu audition and could be a valuable bargaining chip as the trade deadline approaches.

Cubs Acquire Pitcher from Mariners

Speaking of trades, the Cubs made one with the Seattle Mariners. The Cubs received left Mike Montgomery and Triple-A pitcher Jordan Pries in exchange for prospects. The move bolsters the Cubs’ pen and gives them a possible in house option to replace a member of the starting rotation in the coming years.

Montgomery is not Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman, but he is an effective reliever and will help the Cubs down the road, beyond this season. Montgomery is currently under team control until 2021, not becoming a free agent for five years from now. That period is longer than Miller and Chapman have on their contracts put together. Chapman is a free agent after this season and Miller in 2019.

The Cubs improved their roster and gave up some of their lesser known prospects to get a valuable arm. This was a good move on the part of the Cubs, who will benefit in the short, and the long term.

Going Forward

The Cubs will travel to Milwaukee to play the Brewers on 22nd, then begin the Cross-town series vs the White Sox, the first half of which will be on the south side, and play the Mariners at home to round out the month of July. The Cubs will play the majority of their August games at home. The Pirates, Cardinals, and Brewers will come to Wrigley at various point in August.

The Cubs had problems down the stretch in the first half. Whether or not this was on account of rest, or lack thereof, will be determined as the Cubs power through the second half of their schedule. The Cubs have a seven game lead over the Cardinals and will try to maintain their place among the best clubs in the league. Every game counts in the hunt for October.