In taking two of three from the Cardinals on the road over the weekend, the Chicago Cubs have demonstrated the ability to win against the best the NL Central has to offer. The problem now is: Do they have enough firepower to take on the rest of the league, or to make one last improbable run to the Fall Classic?
Sadly, the answer to that question is ‘no’.
What will it take for the Cubs to make history in 2021?
In looking at the ultimate prize, winning the title, we have to break down the team.
Do the Cubs have sufficient offensive power? Since overcoming their initial offensive malaise, Chicago has certainly demonstrated they can score a lot of runs. Just look at the current ratings in MLB offensive categories. They rank 12th overall in OPS and RBI, 13th in slugging percentage and batting average and an impressive eighth in on-base percentage.
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Surprisingly for many Cubs fans, they also rank fifth in stolen bases. All this says that Rossy’s offense is healthy.
Defensively, the Cubs rank sixth, with a .985 fielding percentage.
The big problem thus far
It is starting pitching where Chicago falls back into the pack and become a mediocre team. They rank 25th in starting pitching ERA at 4.77. Starters are 14-16 and have allowed a .268 batting average, placing them at 29th, only above the Baltimore Orioles.
It’s clear the Cubs need help in the rotation. Some help has arrived in the apparent return of Hendricks and Davies to expected form. The Double-As, Arrieta and Alzolay, have been reasonably steady all year so far. But Williams has not held up his end. The Cubs need one more starter.
The question becomes: Where are they going to find that starter? It’s possible one of the young guns, Keegan Thompson or Justin Steele when he gets back, might step up. Or perhaps one of the ‘old’ guns like Tommy Nance or Dan Winkler might be the answer.
We have Arrieta, Alzolay, and now finally, Hendricks and Davies, but somewhere, the team needs to find one more starting pitcher they can count on, and it needs to be soon. If they don’t locate that final jewel in the crown, we will likely see an entirely new team next year, and I for one, would be sorry to see that happen.