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Cubs starter Jon Lester gave up nine hits but only one run (unearned) in 6⅔ innings.

Here are four takeaways from the Cubs-Brewers series this weekend:

1. Willson Contreras is the Cubs' early season MVP.

It was no secret Willson Contreras tired down the stretch last summer, one reason the Cubs wanted to give more playing time to backup Victor Caratini.

Keeping Contreras fresh was a priority, and the Cubs didn't bring in a veteran backup, feeling Caratini had proved himself.

But with Caratini on the injured list after surgery to repair his broken left hamate bone, manager Joe Maddon has had to rely again on Contreras to carry the load.

So far Contreras has done just that, tying his 2018 home run total Saturday with his 10th home run, a walk-off shot that gave the Cubs a 2-1, 15-inning win. It also was the second 15-inning game Contreras has caught in two weeks, after the April 28 game in Arizona, a 6-5 Cubs win.

Contreras has been the Cubs' Most Valuable Player in the early going, even with Javier Baez off to a hot start. He began Sunday ranked third in the majors with a 1.069 OPS, trailing only Cody Bellinger (1.234) and Christian Yelich (1.216).

Last year in the second half Contreras had the second lowest OPS (.585) in baseball out of 157 players with 200 or more plate appearances, ahead of only Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (.543).

It's a turnaround that even Contreras himself didn't expect.

"To be honest, I didn't think about having a great start like this one," he said. "I did put my focus and work into my mindset. That took me out of my game plan last year. I put a lot of pressure on myself to match the homers or RBIs from the year before. It didn't work out, but I was glad I was able to fail that way and learn from it."

2. The once-shaky Cubs bullpen has executed a drastic turnaround.

Over the last 30 days heading into Sunday night's game, the Cubs bullpen had compiled a major-league-best 2.67 ERA in spite of a major-league-worst 13.7 percent walk percentage over that span. Opposing hitters were batting .194 off Cubs relievers in the last month, second to the Astros' .191.

When the Cubs started 2-7 thanks in no small part to the bullpen struggles, leading to the demotion of Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A Iowa, President Theo Epstein was skewered on talk radio for not making any significant improvements to the pen in the offseason or trying to sign available closer Craig Kimbrel.

Epstein defended new pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and Chairman Tom Ricketts' spending while acknowledging the problem.

"It's not like we're brushing it off in the least," he said. "It's got our attention and then some. We need to change the script, but we also know we control that."

The bullpen has stabilized without any major changes, and no one has been calling for Kimbrel lately. Edwards is back after a reboot at Iowa, looking like his old self, while Tyler Chatwood has stepped up in a relief role, including four hitless innings in Saturday's win.

With a healthy Mike Montgomery back as Maddon's so-called "wild card," available for either a batter or two or for five innings, the Cubs' patience in the face of fan and media panic seems to have paid off.

3. The nation is in danger of experiencing Cubs fatigue.

The Cowboys may be America's Team, but the Cubs apparently are ESPN's Team. They made their second straight appearance on "Sunday Night Baseball" Sunday, and will be on again next week against the Nationals in Washington. Then they'll be on again June 16 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

That's four appearances in seven weeks, or the kind of exposure that once drew complaints from baseball fans tired of seeing the Yankees and Red Sox every other week. While the late Sunday games lead to some travel headaches, Maddon said he doesn't mind playing so many in a row.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "When you're at home it's not such a bad gig, and when you're not leaving right after the game. ... When you're on the road and you have to go somewhere, that's when it becomes a little cumbersome. So no, the fact that we're here, (it's) cool."

The Brewers were playing in their first Sunday night game in six years. Manager Craig Counsell said he doesn't mind being snubbed since small-market teams have fewer fans to draw on for ratings, which obviously is what ESPN is seeking.

4. It's time to put a retractable roof on Wrigley Field.

Fans sat in a steady drizzle for several hours during Saturday's 15-inning affair in a game that might not have been played a few years ago. MLB often pressures home teams to start games in inclement weather because of rescheduling hassles for teams after rainouts.

Back in April of 2007, I asked former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett what could be done to Wrigley Field to ensure the ballpark would be viable for another 50 years.

"Ideally, especially for this time of year, you'd like to see a dome put on the outside of it," Barrett said. "Don't change anything about Wrigley Field. Just reinforce it and have a dome covering it. It's been nice to play these games (in Milwaukee). I'd hate to lose that tradition of going to Wrigley, the ivy on the wall and all that."

Barrett suggested the Cubs could play their home schedule at Miller Park for a year or two while retrofitting Wrigley.

With colder, rainier springs becoming the norm in Chicago, maybe Barrett's idea isn't so crazy after all.

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