30 Teams in 30 Days: Chicago Cubs Preview

Cubs Preview!
Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant, left, poses with his wife Jessica after Bryant received his National League MVP award before a baseball game between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXC114

 

The 30/30 Club

Club 12: Chicago Cubs

The 2016 Chicago Cubs were the darlings of Major League Baseball as they finally snapped their 108-year World Series drought.  2017 saw the Cubs take a natural step back to win just 92 games after winning 103 the year before, but they were still good enough to easily win the National League Central and advance to the NLCS before they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Once again in 2018, the Cubs look to be one of the premier teams in the National League as they march towards a second World Series title in three years.

Past reports:

BaltimoreChicago ALHoustonAtlantaChicago NLArizona
BostonClevelandLos AngelesMiamiCincinnatiColorado
New York ALDetroitOaklandNew York NLMilwaukeeLos Angeles
Tampa BayKansas CitySeattlePhiladelphiaPittsburghSan Diego
TorontoMinnesotaTexasWashingtonSt. LouisSan Francisco

 

2017 Record: 92-70, lost to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series

Acquisitions: SP Tyler Chatwood (free agency), SP Yu Darvish (free agency), RP Brandon Morrow (free agency), SP Drew Smyly (free agency), RP Steve Cishek (free agency), OF Peter Bourjos (minors – ST invite)

Departures: SP John Lackey (free agency), CL Wade Davis (free agency), RP Koji Uehara (free agency), LF Jon Jay (free agency), C Alex Avila (free agency), SP Jake Arrieta (free agency), RP Hector Rondon (free agency)

Projected Lineup:

CF Albert Almora Jr

3B Kris Bryant

1B Anthony Rizzo

C Willson Contreras

LF Kyle Schwarber

SS Addison Russell

RF Jason Heyward

2B Javier Baez

Projected Rotation:

SP Jon Lester

SP Yu Darvish

SP Jose Quintana

SP Kyle Hendricks

SP Tyler Chatwood

Position Battles:

The only battle the Cubs have, and it’s not really a battle in so much as the way Joe Madden is going to use these guys is in center field with up and coming stars Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ.  Happ will likely be floating around the outfield and second base and should still get 300+ at bats in sort of the new Ben Zobrist mold (along with Zobrist himself).

Outlook:

The Chicago Cubs let 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta go via free agency after seeing his numbers drop in the last season and a half and replaced him with former Rangers ace Yu Darvish.  There are questions surrounding Darvish, mostly involving his mental state after struggling in two World Series starts against the Astros.  Darvish should see an improvement in his numbers going from the Rangers to the Cubs (with a pit stop in Los Angeles at the trade deadline last year), as he won’t have to worry about facing too many designated hitters.  The Cubs also let aging starter John Lackey go and replaced him with former Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood.  Chatwood could be one of those sneaky signings that works out now that he is going to be pitching in Wrigley Field instead of Coors Field.  His career ERA in Coors is 5.25, and his road ERA is two runs lower.  If the Cubs get 12-13 wins out of Chatwood with an ERA of about 3.50 that should be more than enough to make the Cubs the prohibitive favorites again in the NL Central and quite possibly get back to the World Series.  The Cubs are arguably one of the three most complete teams in baseball with their offense, their stellar defense and a top notch pitching staff.

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