We are seeing the Chicago Cubs return to contention this year, and this is arguably the most exciting time to watch Cubs baseball since 2019. There is an exciting core, a wealth of young prospects on their way up, and a free agent class to fill in gaps for next year. The future looks bright, but there are a few things standing in the team's path to another championship. Here are three reasons why the Chicago Cubs will probably not win the 2023 World Series.
1. The rotation is shaky
Aside from Justin Steele, the Cubs starting rotation is far from perfect. Steele may be in the Cy Young conversation and flash a sub-3 ERA, but he can't start every game. And even when he does, he rarely makes it past the 6th inning. Behind him are several arms that we don't quite know what we're going to get out of. Jameson Taillon was stringing together some decent starts at the end of July and early August, until a blow-up outing where he surrendered 8 earned runs to the Toronto Blue Jays. And before the All-Star break, the Cubs had won just 3 of the games where Taillon started.
Kyle Hendricks is more or less the same story. He has shown the ability to go out there and give you a quality start (9 on the year), but when he's not sharp it's difficult for the team to win. Perhaps the most alarming start for Hendricks was his game against the Atlanta Braves, who lit up the 33-year-old to the tune of 7 earned runs in just 4 innings. When elite hitters are in the opposing lineup, it's hard for Hendricks to fool them with his arsenal and his bad starts tax the already thin bullpen even further.
Marcus Stroman is also likely out for the season, leaving Javier Assad to take his place. Other than Steele, Assad is the most trustworthy arm in my eyes. The 26-year-old doesn't blow hitters away with velocity, but he has wicked movement on his breaking pitches and he has turned in two convincing starts against the Blue Jays and White Sox since joining the rotation. The fifth spot in the rotation is currently up in the air but the options are Drew Smyly, who was recently transferred to the bullpen after struggling mightily in the rotation, and Hayden Wesneski, who is the only long-reliever in the bullpen right now.
That leaves the options in Iowa, where top prospect Jordan Wicks is likely the next in line to see playing time at the big league level. Wicks has started seven games for Iowa where he has thrown 33 innings and struck out 30 hitters with a 3.82 ERA. I would bring him up soon to see what he can offer the big-league squad.