When I started this preview, I expected the Cubs to be a decent team, but had them as an early playoff out and nothing more. Then the news broke that the Cubs landed pitcher Yu Darvish to a six year 126 million dollar deal. This changes everything. This fills in the missing hole that Jake Arrieta once filled in this pitching staff and have made the Cubs big time contenders heading into the 2018 year.
The Cubs finished the 2017 season with a 92-70 record which was good enough to clinch the NL Central Division title for the second straight season. This would set them up with the Washington Nationals in the NLDS which became one of the most anticipated playoff matchups in MLB history. The expectations lived up to reality, as the series went the distance and thanks to a dominating display by star first basemen Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs won the series in five. They had advanced to the NLCS where they would meet the Los Angeles Dodgers, a rematch of the 2016 season, one that was won by the Cubs. This would be a different story however. Due to a lack of efficient starting pitching and one of the worst displays batting with runners in scoring position you will ever see in your life, the Cubs lost the series in just 5 games. In a blink of an eye their season was over and the question became now what? “How do we as an organization bounce back in 2018?” Well for starters the acquisition of Yu Darvish will most certainly help . Darvish has one of the nastiest sliders you will ever see and will give you 200 strike outs in a season with a blink of an eye. The Cubs also have a pretty good starting staff to compliment Darvish and ironically, Darvish won’t even be the ace. Their one will come by the likes of veteran lefty, Jon Lester. Lester finished the 2017 season with an impressive 13-8 record, but will have to improve his ERA this season as he finished last year with an ERA of 4.33. They than have a really good righty in Kyle Hendricks who will give you more quality starts than bad and Jose Quintana who the Cubs got from the White Sox last summer and has been a huge contribution to the team. The Cubs will have one of the better starting rotations this year and if they can stay healthy, they will be a rotation you will be dreading to face all summer long.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cubs swing some of the best sticks in all of Major League Baseball. If you were to start a team and could have a choice of any players to pick from it is most likely that you would just take the entire Cubbies infield. At first is one of the best players in the game, Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo finished the 2017 season with a .273 BA, drove in 109 runs and hit 32 home runs. You than move to Rizzo’s right where you have one of the flashiest players in all of baseball, Javier Baez. Baez fields his position with such a grace and with such flash, you would think he is super man. He also has a lot of pop on his bat and can give you 20-25 home runs per season. You than get to the left side of the infield and this is where the Cubs just start to get greedy. They have a wildly talented young SS in Addison Russel and at third in my opinion the best pure hitter in the game, Kris Bryant. I think Bryant will hit 40 homers during the 2018 season and by 2020 he will be a top 2 player in our game. The Cubs also have a very talented Venezuelan catcher in Willson Contreras who you know you can rely on to protect the plate and also produce for you with his bat. If you think the Cubs offense was loaded enough, the rich just keeps on getting richer. They have a plethora of outfielders that they can mix and match throughout the season. At left, they have the big hoss from Indiana University, Kyle Schwarber who I think is going to have a huge season at the plate this year and think he has the ability to drive in well over 100 runs. In center, the Cubs will most likely will trot out Albert Almora Jr. who is a decent fielder, but won’t provide much with his bat. And then in left you have Jason Heyward who is starting to live up to his huge contract he was given by the Cubs. Now I know what you’re thinking, where’s Ian Happ, Where the hell is Ben Zobrist. Well this is a problem that Joe Maddon will have coming into the season but let me tell you something, that is not a bad problem to have as no matter what, the Cubs are gonna be left with two of the better bench players in all of baseball.
As for my prediction for this Cubs team in 2018, I think their key is gonna be health. You can see that their talent is plentiful on paper but the season is a freaking grind and keeping a ball club healthy for 162 plus the postseason is no easy feat. That being said, due to the recent acquisition of Yu Darvish and their star powered offense, I think these Cubs will finish with a 102-60 record on the season and be your 2018 NL representative in the World Series, where they will than be defeated by the Houston Astros in 6 games, book it.