Chicago Cubs banking on Cole Hamels; narrowing the roster down

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are betting heavily on 35-year-old lefty Cole Hamels this year as they start whittling down the roster as Cactus League play continues.

There are just weeks until Opening Day as the roster picture of all 30 big league teams starts to come into focus. The Chicago Cubs have narrowed down the list of guys in Major League camp in recent days as workloads start to ramp up to get the regulars ready for another 162-game march toward October.

We already know a bit about how the Cubs will shape up. Closer Brandon Morrow will likely miss the first month or so of the season as he recovers from offseason surgery. Addison Russell still has to serve the remaining 29 games on his league-issued 40-game suspension, as well, meaning we’ll see Javier Baez hold down shortstop at least in the interim.

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Now, there are plenty of people who feel Baez is the better option regardless of whether or not Russell holds a 25-man spot. Coming off a breakout MVP runner-up campaign, the Puerto Rican native put his skills on center stage last year, both offensively and defensively – not to mention on the basepaths, as well.

The early performance of both Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood has made the pitching side of things more interesting. Chatwood, who led the league in walks last season, seems to have ironed out some mechanical flaws and is looking much sharper this spring. Darvish, meanwhile, shows no lingering signs of the injury that derailed his first season in Chicago. Having both guys healthy and effective could, at least in theory, lead to the Cubs trotting out an extended starting rotation this year.

Those guys – as well as bounce-back campaigns from guys like Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras – will be key if the Cubs hope to climb back atop the National League Central. St. Louis made two huge additions in Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller and Milwaukee brought back a core that won 96 games last season – then adding Yasmani Grandal to the mix behind the dish.

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