Kyle Schwarber and a revitalized rotation will lead the Cubs to the NL Central title

With their offense, defense and rotation all having regressed significantly from last year's stellar performances, the defending champions' 43-45 first-half record left them 5 1/2 games behind the upstart Brewers at the All-Star break. Last Thursday's acquisition of Jose Quintana from the White Sox and the pending return of Kyle Hendricks should bolster a unit that's been lit for a 4.58 ERA this year, up from 2.96 last year.

Meanwhile, Schwarber has gone 6-for-26 with three doubles and two homers since returning from a two-week Triple A refresher course, and while his overall batting line is still a cringeworthy .177/.297/.399, the trend arrow is at least pointing in the right direction. The bet here is that everything is about to click into place for the 22-year-old slugger, and that the Cubs will get a chance to defend their title in October.  

REITER: Kyle Schwarber and the scout who signed him have special bond

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