2021 MLB Team Preview: Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are returning for the 2021 MLB season with varied expectations. They weren’t one of the teams to go on a spending free in the offseason and lost a number of key players. Even so, they still provide the same expectations of a team that is going to compete. Have they lost a step in the National League Central or did they simply make some shrewd moves that will allow them to better compete?
What Happened Last Year
The Cubs started the 2020 season hot by winning 13 of their first 16 games. They did cool off from there but still eventually won the NL Central with a 34-26 record. Despite their regular season success, they were swept by the Miami Marlins in the NL Wild Card Series 2-0.
One of the biggest takeaways of the 2020 season for the Cubs was that they struggled to hit consistently. While their pitching and defense was solid throughout the year, batting was a struggle. They didn’t look nearly like the 2016 World Series team, seemingly losing their confidence a little bit.
The largest move of the offseason for the Cubs was the trade that saw them pick up Zach Davies and a few other young unproven prospects from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Yu Darvish. It was a head scratching move, but the organization seems to know what they are doing in this confusing and strange offseason. This team also saw a number of fan favorite players leave the roster, including Jon Lester, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber. The future looked very dim for the Cubs until they were able to resign Andrew Chafin and sign Joc Pederson. The Cubs hope that these moves will be able to maintain their balance between going into a full rebuild and also staying competitive in the NL Central.
This Cubs team will definitely benefit from the acquisition of Pederson despite him coming off a very bad year in 2020. However, he performed great in the postseason and gives Cubs fans hope of turning around their hitting this year. They also still have Kyle Hendricks to keep this team in contention barring an injury. The Cubs have a ton of work to do in their roster going forward but they have a roster that can compete for the top spot in the NL Central in 2021. If the pitching and defense is able to stay on course and their hitting can improve, we could see them finish with a solid record despite an average roster overall. Although, it is going to be incredibly difficult to pass the St. Louis Cardinals in the standings after their acquisition of Nolan Arenado.
Pick: 2nd In National League Central