Chicago Cubs: When back at full strength, this team will be dangerous

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Injuries are tearing Major League rosters apart left and right in 2021, and the Chicago Cubs are certainly no exception. The team is littered with injuries right now, but the players are slowly making their way back, and it seems like the team hasn’t played a game fully healthy since opening weekend.

Justin Steele, David Bote, Adbert Alzolay, Trevor Williams, Nico Hoerner, and Matt Duffy are all currently on the 10-day IL. Rowan Wick, Johnathan Holder, and Austin Romine are on the 60-day IL. Jason Heyward and Jake Marisnick were recently activated, while Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo have both dealt with lingering issues all season. However, the injuries have allowed for players like Patrick Wisdom to emerge and solidify their spot on the roster.

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The Cubs have found ways to win without all these players, which can only be encouraging for when everybody comes back. Hoerner and Duffy coming back means a player like Sergio Alcantara will be sent down, and conventional wisdom says Eric Sogard will be the odd man out as his performance has dipped recently.

Rafael Ortega has hung around the roster but there may not be room for him either when the team is fully healthy. Wisdom has eight home runs in just fifteen games, already worth 1.2 WAR. He is probably safe from the roster crunch. Wisdom’s power will play off the bench as well.

Healthy Chicago Cubs team to make a run?

The Cubs core, with a rejuvenated Bryant and Baez, along with a bench of Marisnick, Bote/Hoerner and Wisdom makes for a highly competitive team in the Central. This isn’t counting how Heyward normally gets better as the season goes as well as Rizzo, and with the success the bullpen has already had, it should only get better with experience, and with each win the team is getting closer to the point where they should go for it one last time before all these players hit free agency.

Once the Cubs are finally fully healthy again, excluding the 60-day IL members, the alignment may look something like this:

  • LF – Joc Pederson
  • CF – Ian Happ
  • RF – Heyward
  • 3B – Kris Bryant again?
  • SS – Baez
  • 2B – Hoerner
  • 1B – Rizzo
  • C – Willson Contreras
  • Bench – Marisnick, Duffy, Bote, Wisdom, Backup C
  • SP – Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, Alzolay, Williams, Jake Arrieta

That’s a division-winning caliber club if even half of those guys perform to their capabilities. Now, the big question is if it’s a World Series winning caliber club. Maybe it’s not, but the good news is that nobody in the National League is a cut above anybody else, and the Cubs have proved that with their performance against the Dodgers and Padres this season.

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The Chicago Cubs could certainly stand to add another starting pitcher or two, and they might. They might stay put which is not a good move, and they might do a hybrid buy/sell. Jed Hoyer has the final say, and I don’t envy his position right now.