Chicago Cubs: Astros’ Dallas Keuchel tells reporters, “We’re not the Cubs.”

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Dallas Keuchel
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Dallas Keuchel /

Hoping to avoid a sluggish start similar to the Chicago Cubs in 2017, the Houston Astros’ Dallas Keuchel believes his teammates will be the difference.

Coming off their first World Series title in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs had high hopes last spring. Could they possibly repeat atop the baseball world? As we all know now, the answer was ‘no.’ Now, the Houston Astros reign supreme in Major League Baseball – and are hoping to avoid the dreaded ‘World Series hangover’ in 2018.

Coming off the shortest offseason ever, Houston will have its hands full in that regard. But in an interview Wednesday, Astros All-Star lefty Dallas Keuchel had this to say:

"“We’re not the Cubs,” he told the Washington Post. “I firmly believe we have better players.”"

Now, we can debate all day as to whether or not the ‘World Series hangover’ actually exists. But for the Cubs, it certainly seemed to be a factor. By the end of the season, players seemed mentally and physically exhausted. Early in the year, the energy and fire that personified the championship-winning team from 2016 was nowhere to be found.

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Need further proof? No Major League team has successfully defended their title since the New York Yankees’ three-peat from 1998 to 2000.

After taking the Fall Classic to Game 7, Houston (along with the Los Angeles Dodgers) enjoyed the shortest offseason. In turn, this means their odds of battling fatigue during the regular season are higher. Again, just look at the Cubs in 2017 if you want an example of what that looks like. Many people noticed that toward the end of the season and during the postseason the Cubs just seemed to run of gas – especially in the NLCS against the Dodgers.

I reference to Keuchel’s comment “I firmly believe we have better players,” he is entitled to his opinion. Truth be told, he’d lose the locker room if he suggested otherwise.

Both squads feature top-level talent

The Astros do have incredibly talented players like Keuchel, Justin Verlander and newly-acquired Gerrit Cole on the mound. At the plate, the Astros have quality talent like shortstop Carlos Correa and third baseman Alex Bregman. Don’t forget about reigning American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve, either.

However, the Cubs counter with one of the best rotations in the National League. Veteran Jon Lester headlines this group of top-tier arms. Really, four of these five starters could be a one or two on most staffs. Following Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood give Joe Maddon a more-than-potent group.

At the plate, the Cubs counter Bregman, Correa and Altuve with Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and their own former MVP in third baseman Kris Bryant. 

Nevertheless, Keuchel’s comments will be taken 100 different ways by 100 different people.

Wheather the ‘World Series hangover’ is a real thing or just another one of baseball many myths it is always difficult to repeat as champions.

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The Cubs and Astros both have an abundance of young talent and are fully capable of winning back-to-back titles. Regardless, both clubs remain locked and loaded heading into 2018.