Chicago Cubs: Three keys to win the opening series

The Cubs open up the long-awaited 2020 season on Friday, where they will host the Brewers in a three-game set at Wrigley Field

After much anticipation, the Chicago Cubs and the 2020 season is finally set to begin this Friday. Sure, it won’t feel the same without fans, but having baseball back is the most important thing and Cubs fans around the country couldn’t be more excited.

The season doesn’t begin easily, as the Brewers come into town for a three-game series. If the team wants to get off on the right note, hitting with runners in scoring position, sound defense and effective bullpen will be necessary.

The Brewers have been nothing but consistent under Craig Counsel, who is now the longest-tenured manager in the National League. In 2019, watching the Brewers finish 20-7, en route to a Wild Card berth after losing Christian Yelich to a season-ending injury nicely encapsulated the strength and stability Milwaukee has had at the management position since 2015.

If the Cubs want to start the season off on the right foot, hitting with runners in scoring position will be the first key. In 2019, the Cubs batted .259 with runners in scoring position, good for 15th in all of baseball. The Brewers were 29th at .237 so the Cubs have to take advantage in this area.

The next key for this series will be the defense. The team committed the third-most errors in all of baseball in 2019 with 118. The Brewers were 14th with 97. David Ross has to make sure his guys clean things up defensively. They are clearly the more talented team in this series, but playing sloppy baseball will keep them from proving that. Good, sound defense will be crucial for the Cubs to win this series.

The last key for this series is the bullpen. Reading the projected bullpen for this team leaves nothing but an uneasy feeling inside of fans. Craig Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan, Brad Wieck and Ryan Tepera are the key names of this bullpen and there is so much uncertainty amongst this group.

Kimbrel is beardless and only touched 94-95 in his outing during the exhibition last night which may be a cause for concern. Wick has the potential to be a lockdown arm but it remains to be seen if the rest of the names will be able to build off strong 2019’s. With a starting rotation that will most definitely need support already being down an arm in Jose Quintana, the pressure is on this bullpen and will most certainly decide this series.

 

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The Cubs have the blueprint to start the season off with a series win, but it’s crucial they excel in these three areas if they want to do so. The first two exhibition games may have not counted, but I for sure feel less confident as we head into Friday. Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood are slated for this series and we hope they are ready to roll when the Brew Crew arrives.