Tha Sports Junkies 101

2017 Chicago Cubs Guide

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MLB

The Chicago Cubs are entering this season as defending World Series Champions. Something they have not done in over a century.

It isn’t easy for a team to be back-to-back champs, but if there is a team to do it, this the one.

If you are looking to root for a team that could run, hit, and pitch, don’t look any further. This is your team.

Take a look at the roster overview and use this as a guide as you grow your Chicago Cubs fandom this season.

Projected Lineup

1. LF Kyle Schwarber

2. 3B Kris Bryant

3. 1B Anthony Rizzo

4. 2B Ben Zobrist

5. SS Addison Russell

6. RF Jason Heyward

7. C Wilson Contreras

8. CF Jon Jay

Projected Bench

-C Miguel Montero

-INF Javier Baez

-INF Tommy La Stella

-OF Albert Almora Jr.

-OF Matt Szczur

 

The depth of this lineup appears to been developed in a video game due to the fact that there are very few weaknesses in it.

National League reigning MVP Kris Bryant is coming of an excellent sophomore year in which he hit .292, scored 121 runs, hit 35 doubles and 39 home runs while driving in 102. Behind him is Rizzo who put up similar numbers, only hurts the opponent even more. The “Bryzzo” tandem will be shattering some ball toward Waveland Avenue come opening day.

Chicago lost center fielder Dexter Fowler in free agency to division rival St. Louis Cardinals. They filled that in by signing veteran Jon Jay. This opens up flexibility in rotating around their outfield and switching in and out players. Heyward is coming off his worse offensive season in his career. Though that was the case, the Cubs continued to play him due to the fact of how much of a defensive asset he is to this team. Schwarber is headed to the outfield this season After previously playing catcher, Kyle Schwarber’s days look all but over with Contreras’ production so far. Schwarber is coming off of an interesting 2016 but nonetheless he’s ready to provide full-time and bring a new style of lead off hitting to this lineup.

Zobrist will fill in wherever the Cubs needs as he can play outfield as well as second base. Javy Baez proved last season that he belongs in they everyday lineup which makes this choice for Joe Maddon more difficult then it needs to be.

Almora, La Stella, Montero, and Sczur round out the rest of the bench.

Watch for Maddon to create about sixty different lineups this season.

Starters

1. LHP Jon Lester

2. RHP Jake Arrieta

3. RHP John Lackey

3. LHP Brett Anderson

5. RHP Kyle Hendricks

Bullpen

– Wade Davis

-Carl Edwards Jr.

-Justin Grimm

– Mike Montgomery

– Hector Rondon

– Pedro Strop

– Koji Uehara

 

Jon Lester will open up the season on Opening Day verse the Cardinals followed by Arrieta, Lackey, Anderson and ERA leader Kyle Hendricks. Anderson signed in free agency with the Cubs. Brett was with the Los Angeles Dodgers lasts season but was sidelined because of a back surgery he had in March of 2016.

Lester and Hendricks were first and second in earned run average with Hendricks being slightly better. Lester led the team in wins last season with 19. Hendricks was in this past years’ Cy Young race but fell short. He had an impressive 2.13 earned runs average and 0.98 WHIP over 190 innings.

Arrieta’s 2016 was not as impressive has his 2015 Cy Young campaign. With that said, his stats still could go head-to-head against most pitchers in all of baseball. He threw 197.1 inning striking out 190 batters with a 3.10 earned run average and a 1.08 WHIP. He also was second in wins with 18.

At thirty-eight, Lackey believes he still has enough in the tank for another run or so. Last year, he had an earned run average of 3.35 and had a career best 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The bullpen is heavy on right-handed pitching with Montgomery being the only lefty in the pen. Newly acquired, Brian Duensing is starting the season on the DL but will be headed to then pen to fill that void as soon as he is ready to go.

Prospects/Farm System

Young has been a word that has been used to described this organization. That is largely to do with them building from the ground level by scouting and developing their farm system. Guys like Bryant and Schwarber have all worked their ways up through the system and continue to make a name for themselves. This past spring we saw Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ shine in their chances. Do not be surprised if you see them come up this season if needed. To read more on it, read my previous article below that was dedicated to taking an in-depth look at the Chicago Cubs top prospects.

Prospect Profiles: Chicago Cubs

Prediction

The Chicago Cubs are coming off an impressive 2016 campaign and are entering the season as the team to beat in 2017. Their hitting is flawless from their lead off hitter to the number 9 guy. They have a strong pitching staff which feature some of the top arms in all of baseball. Pair that with their bullpen depth makes it hard to crack a hit off them.

Last team to win back-to-back World Series was the 1999 and 2000 Yankees. Could the Cubs be next?