By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) If you need an example of how timing can matter for teams at the trade deadline, just look at how the combined effect of the Cubs’ 13-3 dash out of the All-Star break and their splashy trade for left-hander Jose Quintana may have kept their primary divisional competitor at bay, for now.
As recently as July 15, the Brewers were up 5.5 games in the NL Central and were engaged in conversations regarding trades to bolster their starting staff with the likes of Quintana or right-hander Sonny Gray. They knew it was early in their big picture to accelerate efforts to win now but saw a more talented Cubs team that was struggling for consistency and the unexpected opportunity to take them on. Then everything just turned, with Milwaukee losing 11 of 16 games over the same stretch.
The Cubs grabbed the pitcher their rival may have coveted, then wrested first place from them and punctuated it by taking two of three at Miller Park last weekend.
In a way it all may work out for the best for both, with the Cubs seemingly now clear to do postseason battle with the Nationals and Dodgers and the Brewers served well by keeping their powder dry, not expending assets quite yet and knowing they remain on track for success soon.
In the span of just 17 days, some executive decisions and a string of outcomes restored an order that allowed both teams to remain confident in understanding again what and where they are.