Cubs will have to defy the odds to avoid tearing it all down this summer

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

It’s one game. I think everyone needs to remember that. Opening Day went horribly for the Cubs and it was hardly the welcome back to Wrigley Field fans in the seats were hoping for. But it’s not how you start – it’s how you finish.

Chicago will need Kyle Hendricks to pitch like he’s capable of. Four walks in three innings isn’t going to get the job done and the former ERA champ was the first one to admit it after Thursday’s 5-3 loss.

"“There was a lot of kind of non-competitive pitches, which is not like him,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He’s a guy that barely walks guys, and he walked the leadoff guy in the first two innings. So that’s just uncharacteristic of him. I never feel like he had a good rhythm.”"

The Cubs will look to put the season-opening loss behind them on Saturday afternoon. Almost everything that could go wrong did, from the 11 walks issued by the pitching staff to the 13 strikeouts racked up by the offense.

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Jason Heyward and Javier Baez each struck out three times and the club managed a measly two hits in the loss. No matter where you turned, it was nothing but bad news for Ross’ club. You can tell fans have a great deal of anxiety because they know just what’s at stake with a slow start this season.

A slow start would crush the Cubs

If the Cubs get off to a slow start, nobody is untouchable in trade talks. After an offseason focused on slashing payroll and building for the future, it’s abundantly clear the team’s window is essentially shut.

The only way the front office might go all-in is if Chicago plays white-hot baseball throughout the first half and head into the trade deadline with a sizable lead in the NL Central, which is widely expected to be one of the worst divisions in all of baseball.

But a poor showing in the first half would no doubt encourage president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer to listen on literally anybody on the roster. With more than half of the team’s 26-man roster in its final year of control, there could be an unprecedented amount of movement this summer -including some of the team’s biggest names, including Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Baez.

I wouldn’t even put it past the club to dangle Hendricks if they’re out of contention at the deadline. He’s a solid presence in the rotation on a team-friendly deal with an insanely impressive postseason resume. Those things together have tremendous value to a team that thinks they’re one arm away from being a World Series contender.

Next. Three predictions for the Cubs heading into 2021. dark

It wasn’t the start we’d hoped for. Let’s hope it wasn’t the start of a troubling trend that carries throughout the entire first half because it could cause the team’s barely-cracked window to come crashing shut before the summer arrives in the Windy City.