Productive Offseason Ought to Re-Open Cubs Postseason Window

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The Cubs will go into the 2020 season with what staff president Theo Epstein phrases as “an actual good ball membership,” but it’s tough at this level to check them as a critical risk to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals within the Nationwide League.

They may presumably enhance on their third-place end of this season if an ace beginning pitcher is acquired and nearer Craig Kimbrel can return to his All-Star type to strengthen the pitching employees all down the road.

However, the membership has too many query marks to fee as a bonafide contender as a World Collection favourite—a label they’ve been marked with since their world championship marketing campaign in 2016.

They gambled, for example, on a number of leadoff hitters to ignite an offense that usually fell silent. With out a reliable leadoff hitter, the Cubs juggled with their lineup alignment and by no means discovered that constant collection of hitters one via 9 that sustained an extended stretch of profitable. The staff’s longest profitable streak in 2019 was seven video games—and that passed off from April 27 via Might 5. They solely had two different profitable skeins that went 5 video games. Alternatively, their longest shedding streak was 9 going into the ultimate three recreation collection in opposition to the Cardinals, and it got here on the most important time of the yr when a playoff alternative was there for the taking. The Cubs additionally had eight different streaks of three or extra consecutive losses . . . hardly the resume of a championship staff.

If a real ace starter might be added to the roster subsequent yr and a comeback season might be put within the books for Kimbrel, then, maybe, it is likely to be clever to re-evaluate the Cubs’ possibilities as a result of the membership may have depth in pitching with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana giving them a reasonably good stability.

With a wholesome Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez, the Cubs have three excellent offensive merchandise within the coronary heart of their lineup that ought to maintain the staff in good offensive concord, particularly if one other constant hitter might be added and a real leadoff batter might be discovered. 

Followers ought to anticipate an lively offseason for the Cubs entrance workplace and that can imply conversations with the highest free brokers who may probably fill the wants the staff is in search of. They may also have the choice of listening to talks about trades that would change the make-up of the staff.

To maintain the Cubs in rivalry for subsequent season, all gamers needs to be out there in commerce talks aside from the trio of Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez—however in baseball, no title is untouchable.

Defensively, the Cubs are susceptible within the outfield when Gold Glove proper fielder Jason Heyward mans the middle area place, and if Albert Almora remains to be with the membership in 2020, he higher enhance offensively from his .238/.271/.384 slash line.

Nicholas Castellanos was an ideal offensive match, however he doesn’t have nice vary in proper or left and slugger Kyle Schwarber has but to ascertain himself as a persistently reliable outfielder. Schwarber has an correct and robust arm, however he isn’t significantly agile or fast on taking part in drives to his left or proper.

Nico Hoerner carried out properly in his September callup and might be the beginning second baseman subsequent yr surrounded by Bryant at third, Baez at quick, and Rizzo at first—that may be a stable infield on either side of the ball.

Behind the plate, the Cubs seem to have a trio of stable backstops with the usually injured Willson Contreras, the general enchancment of Victor Caratini, and the veteran Jonathan Lucroy.

A commerce is a sure chance with Contreras or Caratini since each have worth and each might be a No. 1 backstop. The 2 want to enhance defensively to be extra constant at stopping handed balls and blocking pitches within the dust. Contreras has a robust arm that retains runners at bay, however accidents have taken a toll the final two seasons. Caratini, nonetheless struggling at occasions with the rudiments of the job, is changing into a harmful switch-hitter and extra reliable with the glove and his throwing capability.

The Cubs don’t determine to be a lot of a working membership within the stolen base space, however enchancment of constructing fewer outs on the bases will likely be a spotlight subsequent spring. The staff is outstanding on advancing from first to 3rd and second to dwelling, however surrendering probably the most outs within the league on the bases should be addressed to ensure that the Cubs to grow to be a staff to generate runs exterior the lengthy ball.

They need to, nevertheless, rating sufficient runs to win extra video games than they lose as a result of, as Joe Maddon identified, they’ve “a number of guys who sting that ball . . . get these line hits with some nice energy.”

That the Cubs will likely be higher than a break-even ball membership in 2020 is a secure prediction, however the identical was mentioned earlier than this season. If the Cubs can tackle the necessity for a top quality beginning pitcher, enhance the membership’s bullpen depth, and put an on a regular basis, high quality leadoff hitter within the lineup together with a run producer who could be a dependable defender, the outlook for subsequent yr needs to be ok to get the Cubs again into the postseason image.

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