In 2017, the Chicago Cubs won the NL Central, with a 92-70 record. They got past the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, but fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. With ace Jake Arrieta entering free agency, the Cubs had some moves to make. Let\’s look at their offseason.
Notable additions: RHP Yu Darvish, RHP Tyler Chatwood, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Dario Alvarez, C Chris Gimenez, OF Peter Bourjos.
Notable subtractions: RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Wade Davis, RHP John Lackey, RHP Hector Rondon, C Alex Avila, RHP Koji Uehara, OF Jon Jay, OF Leonys Martin, C Rene Rivera.
What they did well: They lost Arrieta and Lackey, but they definitely made up for it with the acquisitions of Chatwood and Darvish, who are arguably better. They have an even better rotation.
What they did bad: They lost Davis, and didn\’t get a stable closer to replace him, unless Morrow, Carl Edwards or Justin Wilson can have a really good season. Bullpen is their biggest concern.
Sneaky sleeper: Expected to be the starting center fielder, Albert Almora was sneaky good in 2017, with a .298 batting average and .338 OBP in 323 Plate Appearances. Ian Happ could beat him out for the starting role, but Almora is a name a lot of people forget about.
Unsuspected slump: This was a hard one to choose from, but offensively, I\’m not the biggest fan of Addison Russell. He is very good defensively, but his career .240 batting average and .312 OBP stands out negatively. He isn\’t a good hitter.
Incoming outbreak: Does a 4.69 ERA impress you? No? But does an away 3.49 ERA impress you? These were Tyler Chatwood\’s numbers in 2017, with the Colorado Rockies and the pitching fiasco of Coors Field. Now, he\’s gone from there for good, and should have a breakout year.
Blue-chip Bopper: A top-10 player in the game, Kris Bryant is still here despite a down year. He still hit 29 homers and had a .295 batting average. His 274 RBIs over the past three years are very good, as is his 94 homers and .288 batting average. He\’s arguably been baseball\’s best hitter over that time.
Astounding ace: Despite Darvish\’s arrival, The Cubs\’ ace is still Jon Lester. He had a down year in 2017, with a 4.33 ERA, but his career 3.51 ERA is still very good. He still had a 9.0 K/9 in 2017, so it wasn\’t all bad.
Here is the Cubs\’ projected roster, starting with the lineup.
CF Albert Almora (R)
3B Kris Bryant (R)
1B Anthony Rizzo (L)
C Willson Contreras (R)
LF Kyle Schwarber (L)
2B Javier Baez (R)
RF Jason Heyward (L)
SS Addison Russell (R)
Here is their rotation.
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Yu Darvish
RHP Kyle Hendricks
LHP Jose Quintana
RHP Tyler Chatwood
Carl Edwards Jr. (R) is their closer, with Justin Wilson (L), Brandon Morrow (R), Steve Cishek (R), Brian Duesinsing (L), Justin Grimm (R), Pedro Strop (R) and Mike Montgomery (L) in the bullpen.
OF/2B Ian Happ (S), C Chris Gimenez (R), U Ben Zobrist (S) and 3B Tommy La Stella (L) are on the bench.
For my prediction, I think the Chicago Cubs will end up running away with the NL Central again, making the playoffs.