The Chicago Cubs made an early exit from the playoffs once again in 2020. The Miami Marlins (yes, you read that right) eliminated the Cubs in two games at Wrigley Field before being exposed by the Atlanta Braves.
The Atlanta Braves put up nine runs and seven runs and only mustered two runs in the other game. That is still a series sweep, and they were able to shut the Marlins out twice. The Chicago Cubs could only muster one run in two games against the Marlins while stringing together only nine hits in two games.
Miami ranked 27th in the league in pitcher WAR at 2.2 and posted a team ERA of 4.86. The bullpen itself posted a 5.50 ERA with a -1.4 WAR, according to Fangraphs. They looked baffled most of the time in both games.
Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez, the two starters for the Marlins who will both be around awhile, throw 98+ on their fastballs and the Cubs couldn’t catch up. Meanwhile, here is how the Braves did against Sanchez in the decisive Game 3.
Compare the Braves exit velocities’ against Sanchez to them in Game 2 of the Wild Card series.
The issues go far beyond just hitting the ball. They did not do a good job of elevating the ball or driving it, as the farthest ball hit was 316 feet. The Braves hit four further than that against Sanchez.
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Atlanta was able to turn Sanchez’s velocity around and put up four runs on him in just three innings. Granted, the Braves were the third-best offense in baseball with a team wRC+ of 121, but doesn’t that speak to the problem the Cubs have a little? Their team wRC+ was 91, and the Cubs slugged just .387 as a team. A team that’s built on slugging has lost its power.
It’s pretty clear that a retool/rebuild is in store for them, but nobody knows what that will look like at this point. The problem is that Theo Epstein’s contract is up after 2021, which is the worst kept secret in the world at this point. He may not want to put his hands too much into a team that he’s not going to be around for in the future.
It’s easy as fans to look at the roster and know where changes need to be made. The front office knows that too, but it depends on whether they are willing to spend/trade to make those improvements again. A few trades may not be such a bad idea with Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber all set to reach free agency after next year. Those four players all had really down years in the 60-game season, so their value is down, and whether they can get good value for those players is questionable.
The Cubs couldn’t muster more than a run against the Miami Marlins, which cost them their season. The Braves, who are not even the best team in the National League, showed just how far off the Cubs are from being a true contender once again.