Cubs March Madness: 4 lingering, massive questions Chicago must answer

Despite a ton of optimism from the fanbase, this Cubs team is far from a perfect product.

2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training
2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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March Madness may be the center of the sports world this weekend, but next week, Chicago Cubs baseball is back, opening up the 2024 regular season against the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Cubs fans seem to feel very good about the team after Jed Hoyer poached Craig Counsell from the NL Central rival Brewers and brought back Cody Bellinger. Armed with one of the best farm systems in the game, it feels like Chicago could be turning the corner in a big way this season. That being said, there are some questions the club will have to answer if it wants to be taken seriously as a contender.

1 - Can Jameson Taillon live up to his contract in 2024?

It's hard to imagine a worse start to a Cubs career than the one Jameson Taillon suffered through last season. Thankfully, he rebounded in a big way down the stretch, looking much more like the guy he'd been to this point in his career, but he's going to have to prove he can sustain that over an entire year if he wants the trust of the fanbase.

Projection models need to see it too, because they almost universally show him being marginally more effective than he was in 2023, but still falling well short of his peak years in Pittsburgh and New York. A mid-4.00 ERA and 140 innings from a guy set to earn $18 million this season isn't exactly what Chicago had in mind when they inked him to a four-year deal prior to last season.

A lower back injury prevented the veteran right-hander from making any Cactus League starts this spring, casting further doubt on his ability to be an impactful starter for the Cubs. Set to open the season on the IL, Taillon will need to make sure he's fully healthy and ready to contribute when he joins the team because the margin for error already feels quite small.