Chicago Cubs: No reason to believe this group isn’t up to the challenge

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Despite projections to the contrary, the Chicago Cubs have more than enough talent to not just compete, but make another deep October run this season.

It’s been a while since the Chicago Cubs broke camp as an underdog in any sense of the word. Really, you have to go back to 2015, when Jon Lester and Joe Maddon headed to Arizona for Spring Training for the first time and it seemed like things were finally trending in the right direction after a half-decade of rebuilding under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Of course, that campaign culminated in a postseason run that lasted all the way till the NLCS, Maddon winning National League Manager of the Year, Kris Bryant‘s Rookie of the Year performance and Jake Arrieta taking home NL Cy Young honors after one of the most statistically impressive second halves in baseball history.

That season marked what many believed to be the start of a dynastic run on the North Side of Chicago. Those beliefs ballooned the following year when Maddon led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Bryant won National League MVP and the rest, as they say, is history.

But then, a ‘World Series hangover’ dominated headlines in 2017. Chicago stumbled out of the gate, never finding any semblance of a rhythm in the first half – heading into the All-Star Break two games under .500. Of course, the club rebounded behind a scorching hot second half, including a 19-9 month of September, to win a second consecutive NL Central crown.

After somehow getting past the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, the Cubs looked completely overmatched by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the League Championship Series – and their bid to repeat as World Series champs ended early.