The Chicago Cubs are in a real dogfight in the National League Central; three franchises are within just one win of each other and the hosts will be desperate to emerge victorious when the Toronto Blue Jays visit Wrigley Field this weekend.
As of August 18th, the Cubs – winners of the World Series in 2016 – are right in the mix for baseball’s ultimate prize and stand at 15/2 with Bet365 this time around. But a run of five defeats in their last 10 Major League Baseball outings is NOT good enough. Chicago will be looking to send out a statement of intent in the coming months.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Toronto Blue Jays. With five wins in their previous six games, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Canadian side are competing at the forefront of MLB. However, too many inconsistencies remain and John Gibbons will know that his side is a long way off challenging for the World Series crown.
Toronto Blue Jays
It will take a minor miracle for Toronto to reach the playoffs now. The Blue Jays have won seven of their last 10 Major League baseball fixtures but they remain rooted to the bottom of the American League East – although they are just two wins behind third-placed Tampa Bay Rays.
Bad luck with injuries has hindered the Blue Jays throughout the campaign but that cannot and will not stand as a long term excuse. Gibbons’ men have underachieved and that is the fact of the matter; however, they have shown signs of a mid-season revival in recent weeks and that should please Toronto fans.
Predicting how the Blue Jays will finish the campaign is a near impossible task. If Toronto are fortunate on the injury front and they build momentum, you wouldn’t bet against Gibbons’ side climbing up the MLB rankings.
KEY MAN: JOSH DONALDSON.
With five home runs in his last five games, Josh Donaldson is one of Toronto’s hottest names right now and Gibbons will be expecting big things from the 31-year-old this weekend.
Justin Smoak has led the Blue Jays with the bat for the most part of the campaign but with Donaldson now hitting his stride, Toronto have two elite talents on their roster – and that could save Gibbons’ job come the end of the campaign.
The fact that two of Toronto’s old guard have had to push career-high statistics to keep the Blue Jays in contention says a lot about how disappointing some of the younger members of the roster have been. For now, Gibbons can roll on Donaldson’s impact and influence but it won’t last forever.
The Cubs have been solid at home for the vast majority of the season but two defeats in their last three games at Wrigley Field will have Chicago fans looking nervously over their shoulders. After winning the World Series last year, plenty of baseball fans predicted that Joe Maddon’s men could build the latest dynasty era in baseball.
Unfortunately for Chicago, it hasn’t gone to plan this year. They are still in a great position to challenge for MLB glory but they haven’t been anywhere near as dominant and that is testament to their rivals. Winning a title in any sport is difficult but defending that title is ten times harder.
Let’s go with a Toronto victory here. It might not sit well with neutrals but momentum is with the Canadian side and the Donaldson-Smoak combination with the bat could make all the difference in the series. Sunday’s contest could be the decider and the Blue Jays might have just about enough to sneak the win.
CUBS 4-5 BLUE JAYS