CSN's Kelly Crull and Patrick Mooney talk about the Cubs returning home after a long, tough road trip in this week's edition of the Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Honda dealers.
Although the Cubs have strung together two straight victories in St. Louis, wins have not come easy for the team in recent memory. Chicago is 4-6 in its last 10 outings, and dropped five of those games during its nine-game road trip that wrapped up on Wednesday.
The Cubs' resilience against the Cardinals has impressed CSN Chicago Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney.
"Coming back to St. Louis, I think you see how much this team has grown," Mooney said. "Last summer, (the Cubs) get swept, Joe Maddon decides to have Simon the magician meet them in New York, and the Cubs are really beyond those types of gimmicks at this point. They don't need mariachi bands to loosen up. They're a team that kind of knows who they are."
Along with that knowledge and sense of identity, Mooney believes the Cubs and fans alike were fully aware that a tough stretch like this would come sooner rather than later. Chicago was going to have to go through teams like the San Francisco Giants at some point.
"It's been fun to watch, to see how they would respond to that adversity we all knew was kind of around the corner," Mooney added.
Individual player struggles often come with a team slump, and Jason Heyward is no exception to that. He hopes to turn things around soon, as the Cubs have done, but it remains to be seen if the extra rest due to his recent injury will impact his game in a positive or negative way. Despite his slow start (.217 AVG on the year), Mooney says the Cubs still see great value in their right fielder.
"He did hit a ball to the right side of the infield to move Dexter Fowler over to third base, and that's what the Cubs like about Jason Heyward, that he does all the little things," Mooney said. "Obviously he plays spectacular defense in right field."
Cubs players are now looking forward to returning home for a 10-game stand that features the Phillies, Dodgers and Diamondbacks over a holiday weekend in Chicago.
"The Phillies are really interesting," Mooney said. "They're not tanking like the Sixers were, although they were kind of built that the way the Cubs were a couple of years ago. They kind of got old fast and their window slammed shut, and now they're trying to start over."
Mooney noted that Philadelphia has been really good in one-run games, which will be hard to sustain going forward.
"(Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin) clearly got them playing with effort," Mooney said. "They've got a lot of interesting young players, they've got the No. 1 overall pick coming up, they've got a huge TV deal on the horizon. While I do think, probably not this year, they can get real good in a hurry.
"If you look at the Cubs next couple of years, the Phillies are gonna be there among the National League heavyweights sooner rather than later."
Jon Lester (4-3) will take the bump to start off the series on Friday against Adam Morgan (1-2).