Theo Epstein has left the building, Yu Darvish is in San Diego and Jon Lester is a Washington National. The Chicago Cubs are now entering the unknown. What does the future look like from the bleachers at Wrigley Field? It’s unclear, but we’re about to find out, aren’t we?
The Chicago Cubs
2020: Record: 34 – 26
2020 Finish: 1st in the NL Central, 4th in the X League
Surprises in 2020
Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks carried the Cubs in 2020, there’s no doubt about that. Hendricks had his best season since his Cy Young candidacy back in 2016. Dropping a 2.88 ERA, 0.996 WHIP and a 155 ERA+ over his 81.1 innings in 2020, Hendricks had vintage stuff and then some. Most notably were his control indicators, where he led the NL and in the case of K/BB ratio, the entirety of MLB.
Yu Darvish was another story. While wins don’t necessarily mean too much in regards to the Cy Young award nowadays, Darvish’s 8 wins meant enough. In a shortened season, where every game matters twice as much, Darvish was able to put the team on his back and secure a W more than any other pitcher.
But that’s not all. Darvish put up incredible numbers to the tune of a 2.01 ERA with a 0.961 WHIP. That season is a great feather to put in your cap, especially after a few relatively disappointing seasons in Chicago.
Disappointments in 2020
Speaking of disappointing seasons in Chicago, the traditionally bombastic offense we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the Cubs never materialized. That’s not great, especially when your best pitchers are struggling without run support.
With 0-2 runs of support, Darvish’s ERA jumped to just under 4.00. That’s not great. What’s even worse is that your offense is having difficulty scoring runs. Finishing 10th in runs scored is not the kind of Cubs offense we’re used to. That’s an anemic offense like the ones we’ve seen on the Southside in recent years, not at Wrigley.
Looking Ahead to 2021
Theo’s gone. Lester’s gone. Darvish is gone. Kris Bryant is rumored to be on the chopping block along with Wilson Contreras. The winds are shifting in the Windy City.
Although, that might not be a terrible thing, as the rest of their division is a complete mess. All the Cubs need to do is finish ahead of the identity crisis Brewers, the rebuilding Reds and the rudderless Pirates, and they’re in the postseason. Will they be as powerful and potent as the teams in 2015 and 2016? No, but they’ll be treading water until the front office makes up their mind on whether or not they are rebuilding or going all in again.
I know it’s wild to think that way about a team who is just 5 years removed from their first World Series since 1908, but that’s the landscape of the game. The Cubs were lucky enough to rebuild before and establish themselves as contenders. It’s entirely possible for them to do it again.
Projected 2021 Finish: 88-74, 2nd in the NL Central
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