Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, Adam Warren
Starlin Castro, Dan Haren, Austin Jackson
I present to you the winners of the off-season. The Cubs were on the door step of a World Series birth and what did they do? Upgraded at major positions. Heyward is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league, to go with a guy who hit .293 last year. In addition to adding Heyward, they stole him and Lackey from their division rival Cardinals. This is a huge steal, and the Cards were a bit blindsided, only adding to the their winnings inside the organization. Zobrist is a more efficient hitter than Castro, and can play a variety of positions, and posted a 2.1 WAR compared to Castro who posted .8 last season. If used right, Zobrist is another upgrade. Warren should be the sixth spot starter, which completes a team with little to no holes on the roster.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Dexter Fowler
- Jason Heyward
- Anthony Rizzo
- Kris Bryant
- Ben Zobrist
- Kyle Schwarber/Jorge Soler
- Miguel Montero
- Addison Russell
Stacked. It is so hard to hate on the Cubs right now. In the 3-4 slot you have Bryant and Rizzo. Arguably two of the top 5-10 MVP candidates heading into the year coming off of 57 combined home runs, and an OBP of .369 and .387 respectively. Bryant strikes out a bit more, which is why he slots better in the clean up spot, and also may be able to project more power, as the 24 year old in his first year as an opening day starter. Russell and Zobrist up the middle is as strong as defensive middle as you find in the league. Schwarber and Soler are nice additions to the lineup, but both have major defensive problems. Schwarber can catch, but is the third best defensive catcher on the roster. It may cost Soler at-bats, but the former prospect has yet to prove he belongs on the everyday roster at the same time. Add to that they have Tommy La Stella, and Javier Baez as depth infielders and you have a lineup with almost zero holes. Baez should be viewed as the guy most expendable to add potetial relief pitcher help as they head into the summer.
One thing you cannot do is predict that Arrietta will be as good this year as he was last year. That would be historical. He finished with a 1.77 ERA and was only walking 1 hitter per nine innings last year. When you top Lester as the go to playoff pitcher, you know he was doing something special. Even if he regresss, the thought is that Lackey will be an upgrade over what was in the rotation last year, and it moves Hammel and Hendricks down from the 3-4 guys to the 4-5 pitchers. Hendricks is only 26 and posted a 3.95 ERA last year. His FIP and XFIP suggest that he could have even had a better season. If he can progress from that status, and is the Cubs fifth pitcher, they will be as deep as any team.
If there is anything that is going to derail this team it will be the pen. Rondon and Strop are two guys that can be a solid set up and closer but both have had their issues in their careers. They don’t have too much namewise beside the two and it makes depth a priority to address throughout the seaosn. If the pen isn’t going to blow leads you have the leagues most dangerous team.
It is so hard to poke holes in this team. While the pen is average to below average, it isn’t like it is the leagues worst. They added depth in their rotation, and can use them as long relivers as well, making the holes even smaller. If the Cubs miss the playoffs it is a major failure.
1st in the National League Central