Next up on our Uncut MLB Season Preview are the Chicago Cubs. This storied franchise is looking to repeat their success of 2020 in terms of making the playoffs. Fans have had a stressful offseason after hearing Kris Bryant’s name thrown around the rumor mill constantly. However, Kris remains on the roster, and the Cubs enter 2021 with a chance to compete in the stacked NL Central.
The Chicago Cubs lineup is easily the strength of this team. This lineup makes me excited to write this UNCUT MLB Season Preview. They have studs at all positions in the field with Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Joc Pederson, and a few more. There is no easy out in this lineup which will drive opposing pitchers crazy.
Although they have a star-studded lineup, the Cubs finished 13th in the NL in total hits last year. This type of inconsistency at the plate is not a recipe for success in a full season. These big-name bats will need to live up to the reputation for the Cubs to be competitive this year. Guys like Baez will need to be more patient in the box and draw more walks. Teams know Baez’s reputation of swinging of the strike zone, which is why he struggled last year with a measly .238 OBP.
Overall, most teams in the league would take the Cubs’ offense over their own. These guys know how to swing the bat, and will drive in runs. Expect Kris Bryant to assert himself after having to deal with trade rumors all offseason.
Chicago Cubs fans lost stud pitcher Yu Darvish this offseason the San Diego Padres in a seven-player trade. The Cubs received four prospects and starter, Zach Davies. Davies is not a big-name pitcher but seems to be just about average at worst. Last year he had a career-best 2.73 ERA, which is the first time it’s ever been under 3.50 in his career.
However, Davies is not the focus of this pitching staff. Chicago fans can look forward to their star Ace Kyle Hendricks performing this year. Hendricks had a 2.88 ERA with only 8 walks on 81.1 innings pitched, in arguably his second-best career year. Hendriks is not consistent from year to year, but I don’t expect him to have anything worse than a low 3.00 ERA this year.
Other than that, this pitching staff is slightly worrisome. Jake Arrieta is not the same pitcher he once was as he enters the 12th year of his career. It’s too early to give a verdict on Alec Mills but I wouldn’t expect anything spectacular from him. This rotation is very dependent on Hendriks being a star and carrying this team because if not, the Cubs are in trouble.
The bullpen was a strength for the Chicago Cubs last season, and they hope it will be again this year. With little turnover, the Cubs are looking to duplicate what they had at the end of last year, with a 2.32 ERA over the last 27 games. Craig Kimbrel struggled last season but is still a premier closer in this league. If he can shake off the dust and show he’s got gas in the tank, the Cubbies are in good hands.
The Cubs seem to have a righty-dominant bullpen this year with their lefty lock to make the opening day roster being Andrew Chafin. Chafin is a solid reliever who will come in and give you an out when needed.
The Cubs have solid arms where you will need them. Bullpens are very tricky, as the success of the unit depends on the consistency of the middle guys who will come in during sticky situations. For now, I’ll stick with the hot hand and guess that this bullpen will continue its success from last year.
The rumor around the league was the Chicago Cubs were entering a long rebuild this offseason and everyone was available. Because of that, fans had to say goodbye to Yu Darvish this offseason and bite their fingernails waiting for a Kris Bryant deal that never came. Because they only lost one huge player, I’m still a fan of the Cubs this year. To wrap up this UNCUT MLB Season Preview, I expect the Cubs to come second in the division and compete for the Wildcard.