The unofficial second half of the MLB season kicks off on Friday, with the Cubs beginning their sprint to the trade deadline with a three-game interleague series at Wrigley Field against the Boston Red Sox with a 42-47 record, seven games behind the first place Cincinnati Reds.
While the team's performance within the next few weeks will likely determine just how exciting Cubs baseball can be in August and September, several matchups remaining on the schedule present tantalizing matchups regardless of any potential trade deadline moves.
Regardless if the Cubs are in contention or not, here's four series left on the 2023 schedule that fans can look forward to:
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7/20-7/23 vs. St. Louis Cardinals
It is only fitting that in order for the Cubs to save their season, and pieces on their current roster, that they would have to come up big in a four-game set against the archrival St. Louis Cardinals.
While this four-game set is just the first of two four-game series against the Cardinals in July, the Cubs are given a golden opportunity at home to both assert themselves into the playoff race and bury a Cardinals team that has performed well below expectations.
Despite the Cardinals' 38-52 record, the Cubs' bullpen is likely to be tested against a team with numerous devastating offensive weapons, including reigning MVP Paul Goldschmidt and offensive phenom Jordan Walker.
Though Cubs-Cardinals baseball never disappoints, the Cubs will have to win series against both the Red Sox and the Washington Nationals at home leading into the Cardinals series in order for it to matter.
8/4-8/6 vs. Atlanta Braves
Just after the trade deadline, the Cubs get to host the team who currently holds the best record in baseball, days after they have likely bolstered an already dangerous and deep roster.
The Braves are armed with what is perhaps the most complete collection of young talent in the game, anchored by Ronald Acuña Jr., arguably the frontrunner for league MVP.
Beyond that, the Braves have the NL's home run leader in Matt Olson and one of the league's finest two-way catchers in Sean Murphy, both of whom previously played for the Oakland Athletics prior to their stint in Atlanta.
While this series will be must-watch TV if the Cubs added at the deadline and are back in the playoff race, fans will still have quite the entertaining treat on their hands even if the Cubs end up as sellers.
8/12-8/14 vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Cubs will head north of the border for the second consecutive year to take on the Toronto Blue Jays, offering a unique travel opportunity for the players while giving the North Siders to expand on their successes against the American League East this season.
While the Cubs will be tested this weekend against the Red Sox, they currently hold a 6-3 record against AL East teams on the season, winning three-game sets against the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles.
In what will undoubtedly be a crucial series for the playoff-hopeful Blue Jays who entered the year with World Series expectations, the Cubs will get the chance to potentially play spoiler during their second taste of international baseball this season.
9/15-9/17 @ Arizona Diamondbacks
In a series that was likely singled out by nobody other than Cubs fans living in Arizona at the start of the year, the Cubs may face some high stakes during their second September series against the Snakes.
The Diamondbacks have emerged as a surprisingly competitive team in 2023, largely thanks to MVP-level and Cy Young-level performances from young stars Corbin Carroll and Zac Gallen respectively.
Tied for first place with the perennial contender Los Angeles Dodgers at the All-Star break, the D-Backs are positioned to add at the trade deadline and work to hang on to a playoff spot in what would be their first trip to the postseason since 2017.
On this mid-September weekend, the Cubs, competing for a playoff spot or not, will get the prime chance to play spoiler in what is shaping up to be a chaotic three-way race for the National League West crown, a race that doesn't involve the high-payroll San Diego Padres.