Chicago Cubs 2021 Season Preview

What Cubs fans can expect in such an uncertain season

For the first time since 2014 the Chicago Cubs will be entering the season with a relative amount of uncertainty. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez will all be free agents after the season ends. The only thing that is certain about this season for the Cubs is that things are going to change. The question is how much and will they still remain competitive in the process.

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The Lineup

To the surprise of most Cubs fans the lineup will look relatively similar to last year, with the exception of Joc Pederson in left. The Cubs brought in Pederson as a cheaper replacement for Kyle Schwarber and that’s exactly what he’ll be.

He’s definitely not going to hit for average but he should help inject some power into the line up. Pederson is on a ‘prove it’ deal so maybe he will exceed expectations, but as of now look for Pederson to just replace Schwarber’s production from last year.

There are not many questions in regards to the actual line up itself this season. The Chicago Cubs appear to have finally found a constant bat in the lead off spot with Ian Happ. As all Cubs fans know since Dexter Fowler’s departure this has been a huge issue for the team. The only position that might lack consistency is second base.

Coming into spring training it was an open competition between Nico Horner and David Bote, but given Horner’s play it appears he has won the job. Horner is playing out of his mind right now putting up .692/.714/1.154 with a 1.868 ops. Look for Horner to have a breakout year and show why the Cubs picked him in the first round only three years ago. 

The biggest question when it comes to the cubs lineup is can they stay consistent. With players like Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, and Contreras they should theoretically score very consistently, but they don’t.

The Cubs need to stop scoring 15 runs one game and then only 6 runs over their next 5 games. If the Cubs can stay consistent they have a real shot of challenging the Cardinals for the division. 

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The Rotation

The rotation is probably the biggest question mark for the Cubs this season. Kyle Hendricks is the ace without a doubt and Zach Davies looks to be sliding into the two in his first season with the team. After Hendricks and Davies there is much more uncertainty.

Jake Arrieta has returned home and hopes to find some of that old magic he had in his first stint with the team. While Cubs fans have great memories of Arrieta as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, he is not that player anymore.

In his three years in Philly he put up a 4.55 era. The Cubs won’t be getting the some old Jake Cubs fans love, but hopefully this new version can at least be productive. A combination of Trevor Williams, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Kohl Stewart should fill out the rotation. Williams and Mills look like the most likely candidates, but Alzolay in particular will look to get his fair share of innings. 

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The Bullpen

Since the Chicago Cubs won the world series back in 2016 they have struggled mightily in two areas: inconsistent offense and an absolutely dreadful bullpen. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like things will be any different this season.

Craig Kimbrel is clearly not the pitcher he used to be, but as it stands he is the closer. Is there a world where Kimbrel can return to his old self, yes, but will he, probably not.

The biggest of season addition was probably Pedro Strop, so that should give you an idea of the spot they are in. Kyle Ryan and Rowan Wick have both shown flashes that they can be good revilers, but I have little confidence outside of them.

What’s Going to Happen?

I wish I had a clue of what the Cubs season is going to look like, but most people are having a hard time projecting this team. On paper they have the talent to contend with some deadline additions, but no one plays games on paper.

If things are going well, look for them to keep the big names around at least until the off season. If things start to go bad some names we know and love will be on the move, with Kris Bryant at the top of that list.

This is will be a pivotal season for the team now that Jed Hoyer is in charge. He needs to decided if he needs to add to a contender or blow it up and start over completely. Being the Cubs fan I am, I’ll probably convince myself that we’re going to the playoffs a month into the season only to probably be disappointed, but hope springs eternal.

……And now something to brighten the mood