The Chicago Cubs are in a rebuild mode after an underwhelming 2021 campaign resulted in the departures of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Although the club finished outside of the post-season places, general manager Jed Hoyer has placed a huge amount of faith in manager Dave Ross to guide the Cubs back to Conference in the National League. However, it will take a marked improvement from all facets of the roster with the club seemingly in the process of reshaping their roster.
As a result, the baseball oddsmakers have backed the Cubs at a huge price of +6600 to win the National League. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals, and Cincinnati Reds have longer odds in the National League to claim the crown, suggesting that it could be a long season ahead of the Cubs.
One of the major moves the Cubs made in the off-season was to acquire pitcher Marcus Stroman on a three-year $71 million deal. Stroman automatically slot into the number one role in the Cubs’ rotation and will face a challenge to revive Chicago’s form from the mound. He himself was impressive last season for the New York Mets, boasting an ERA of 3.02, although his win-loss record of 10-13 suggests that the Mets did not get the most out of his performances. The 30-year-old was a standout for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2019 campaign where he earned his first All-Star berth.
Stroman has not been able to shine amid the struggles of his respective teams, and you have to travel back to 2017, when he posted a 13-9 record over the course of the season, to find out the last time he finished with a positive win differential. Kyle Hendricks will offer a solid complement after winning 14 of his starts last season albeit with an ERA of 4.77. However, the rest of the rotation remains shaky, including Adbert Alzolay. The Cubs will need growth from at least one other player to carve out a solid rotation that can be dependable before having to worry about options from the bullpen.
In the batting ranks, the loss of Baez and Bryant will hit hard in the 2022 season. Although Baez was not producing his form of 2018 and 2019, his impact will still be greatly missed along with Bryant, who did have a good campaign before he was traded away to the San Francisco Giants. Rafael Ortega recorded the best season of his career, averaging .291 and scoring 11 runs. The Cubs need him to sustain that level of form in the 2022 campaign amid uncertainty with the rest of the line-up.
Seiya Suzuki could be the difference-maker that Chicago require to boost their playoff hopes. They beat intense competition thanks to the five-time NPB All-Star, and he could make a decisive impact in the middle of the line-up. Suzuki scored 38 home runs for Hiroshima with a formidable average of .317. Whether he can rise to the occasion in the MLB remains to be seen, but he certainly has a great deal of potential.
Hoyer is assembling the building blocks of a solid team, but it is unlikely to result in a charge for the playoffs. Ross does have security with his new contract and if he can show that the Cubs are trending in the right direction by the end of the 2022 season, then it might not be too long before Chicago are a force in the National League once again.
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