Lighten up Cubs fans! Another season of Chicago Cubs baseball is back, and the team is still a deadly contender. Last year the Cubs finished atop the NL Central with a 92-70 record. Beaten by the Dodgers 4-1, 2017 was their third straight appearance in the NLCS.
The Positives: The Cubs continued their winning ways with their third straight season of 90+ wins. They had the number four offense in baseball. They secured their second NLC title in three years. The Cubs signed Yu Darvish, who had previously spent the 2017 season with the Rangers and Dodgers.
The Negatives: Cubs pitching took a step back this season, going from the number one staff in baseball to the number seven staff. The Cubs also had issues out of the bullpen, and finding a reliable closer was tough for a while after losing Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. They lost Wade Davis to Colorado. The Cubs very well may lose Jake Arrieta as well to another squad.
Who Will Be the Leadoff Man?
This may very well be the biggest question the Cubs need to answer. They have a couple options in Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist, and Javier Baez. The real question is who is going to take over the spot. Schwarber led off A LOT last year, so he might get the nod to lead off again. With a lineup as dangerous as Chicago’s if they can find a pure leadoff hitter, the middle of that lineup looks as scary as being alone at Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th.
Will The Bullpen be better this year?
Last year, the bullpen for was nothing to write home about, but it was still good. People will complain about the blown leads, and the home runs given up, but it’s okay. The Cubs had the seventh-best bullpen last year, only a tad worse than 2016. The bullpen posted a 3.80 ERA in 2017 and had a 3.56 ERA in 2016. They have made some additions to the bullpen, and they can only hope they can return to World Series caliber form.
What Impact Will Yu Darvish Have on The Team and Rotation?
Just this last week, the Cubs broke the free agent silence and signed Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract. Signing Darvish bolsters the rotation, in case Arrieta were to leave for another destination. He’s 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA for his career, and he has some nasty stuff. Hopefully, he can channel some of that for this team and help lead Chicago to its third world title and second in three years.
2018 should come as no surprise as the Cubs are predicted to be atop the Central again. Although this year they have competition, the Brewers and Cardinals most certainly got better and will be in contention. Be prepared for Northside Chicago to be rocking deep into October as they look poised to make another deep run.
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