By: Hector Duran
Roster cuts are in full swing and we are inching closer to one of my top 3 favorite days of the year right behind Independence Day and the end of Daylights Saving Time- Opening Day. I am excited for baseball to be back at Wrigley and I am now 3,302 on the season ticket waiting list so I am fired up to hopefully get the call for the 2022 season. Although the north siders aren’t favorites to get a division title or even scratch 80 wins, it should still be a good season- mainly because we get a full season of baseball (hopefully) back.
Total Wins: 78.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to Win NL Central: +425
Odds to Win NL Pennant: +2200
Odds to Win World Series: +4000
The pitching staff is the big question mark here as they have lost Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana this offseason. The additions of Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta, and Trevor Williams should be interesting. We have seen what Arrieta can do and the Cubs and their fans have seen their fair share of Davies and Williams as they have both pitched in the NL Central. Kyle Hendricks is the ace and will get the ball for opening day. He looks to build off the truncated 2020 campaign where he led the MLB in strikeouts per walk and walks per nine innings.
In the outfield, the club lost Kyle Schwarber to the Nationals and Albert Almora Jr. to the Mets but they were able to pick up both Joc Pederson and Jake Marisnick to round out an outfield of Jason Heyward and Ian Happ. Pederson is a power-hitting lefty who can hit to all sides of the field while Marisnick has an average bat but can play some fantastic defense. I think both of these guys will fit just right in.
The bullpen finished the season strong last year with Craig Kimbrel earning the closer’s role for 2021. The Cubs were able to add some arms in Brandon Workman and old friend, Pedro Strop. They will also get a full season of Andrew Chafin who they acquired from Arizona in 2020. One guy who had a great season last year was Jeremy Jefress. He ended up signing with the Nationals but was released about 2 or 3 weeks later and last I checked, he is a free agent now. Maybe a possible return to the Cubs? I’m sure most Cub fans can agree with me that he would be a guy that you would try to bring back.
In terms of my outlook for this team, one thing that jumps out at me is the depth of the starting rotation. We know what we will get out of Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies but the rest is a question mark. Are we going to get the Jake Arrieta that we saw in the second half of 2015 or the guy who struggled during his time with the Phillies? Alec Mills is also a question mark that I have. Sure, he notched a no-hitter but he only pitched 62 innings last season. With a full season looming and if he earns a spot in the rotation, will he be able to be durable and give at least 25 starts?
Am I being biased when I say the Cubs can win the division? Maybe. Do I think they have a good shot to win the division? Also maybe. Let’s start with the bottom feeders. The Pirates are deep in the rebuild after moving on from Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Joe Musgrove. I’d be surprised if they even win 55 games. As for the Reds, they lost some talent this offseason, mainly in the form of Trevor Bauer heading to the Dodgers. I think it’s safe to say their window, if they even had one, has been all but closed at this point.
The Cardinals got better with the acquisition of Nolan Arenado but when Cardinals fans called for the team to sign another starter to compliment Jack Flaherty, I don’t think they had Adam Wainwright in mind. However, I could be wrong and he can have a great season. Milwaukee will be another solid club but similar to the Cardinals, they need to add pitching behind their ace in Brandon Woodruff.
Overall, I think it will be a 3 team race between the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers for the division and if MLB can get a full season of games in, we should be in for a treat this year.