After a 2022 season filled with highs and lows, the Chicago Cubs did quite well in the second half. Much was left to be desired, and thankfully, much has been improved so far regarding fielding a competitive product in 2023. The Cubs now have a dynamic fielder in most positions in the field. Jed Hoyer and company have worked vigorously all winter to put the Cubs in the greatest chance to compete, and for a team that only won 74 games last season, that's a tall task.
We look at more near-sighted teams like the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and Philadelphia Phillies, who seemingly spend at will to win right now but will find themselves in a dilemma down the road when those lucrative contracts stop producing the desired results. Credit to Hoyer for being mindful of creating a competitive product now while leaving an open window to improve in the future. The Cubs are certainly a sleeper in the NL moving forward. Therefore, Let's discuss three bold predictions that we will see from the Cubs in 2023.
Prediction #1: Cubs boast top 5 ERA in the NL
I don't believe it was a fluke that the Cubs' pitching staff collectively produced a 3rd best in the NL ERA of 3.24 post-All-Star break. Their run to finish 39-31 in the second half was fueled by pitching and all of those players who contributed are back in the mix. I've spoken in length about Marcus Stroman and how I feel his ERA was drastically inflated due to a poor start which led to injury last season. Therefore, I believe he gets back to pre-Cubs Stroman posting an ERA in the low 3.00s as he did in 2019 and 2021.
Elsewhere, the Cubs added Tucker Barnhart to the mix, who is a two-time Gold Glove winner and far better pitch framer than Willson Contreras before him. We've seen the stats based on Cubs ERA when Contreras was calling games vs. games called by Yan Gomes, so I'm interested to see what type of game Barnhart will call and how it will produce effective results. The Cubs did add Gold Glove winner Dansby Swanson to pair with Nico Hoerner and Cody Bellinger in center fielder to give the team the best up-the-middle defense in baseball. They could use a better glove at third to help with the extreme ground-ball rates of some of the Cubs pitchers, but there's no reason to believe that they can't pick up where they left off.