Its amazing that the Cubs are only a half game out of first place as we near the end of July. They have been hammered by injuries all season. There have been only a handful of games in which the eight starters have started the same game.
Yet, they have been plugging along, and with the rest of the division struggling, the Cubs are where I hoped they would be, right near the top.
There has been a constant shuffle of players from Iowa that have contributed to the team's success. I'm sure these guys won't make Topp's Update set, so I included them in mine.
Pitcher Jeff Stevens has been with the team for about three weeks and has made five appearances. He's done a decent job since his MLB debut on July 10, having given up runs in only one appearance.
UPDATE: Stevens was sent back to Iowa this morning. The Cubs needed a fresh arm in the bullpen and called up Mitch Atkins. This is Atkins' first time on a major league roster.
UPDATE UPDATE: Atkins got into the game today and pitched a scoreless inning. Welcome to the majors!
In the off-season, the Cubs let back-up catcher Henry Blanco go. We miss Hank White. To help ease our pain, this year we added Andy White to the team. Second baseman Andres Blanco did a nice job with the glove when the regular Mike Fontenot had to play third base in place of the injured Ramirez.
Jeff Baker is our new Mark DeRosa, the play everywhere type of guy. Unfortunately, he can't hit like DeRosa. I hope our old pal Mark doesn't come back to haunt us now that he is with the Cardinals.
Kevin Hart has done a nice job as a spot starter. We will need more good starts from him, now that Ted Lilly is out until mid-August.
The last two months of the season should be exciting and with strong contributions from unlikely sources like these four, the Cubs should be in the mix as they shoot for their third straight division title.