2020-07-07 12:00:00 EDT
The Chicago Cubs should be competitive in a wide-open NL Central during the 2020 MLB season.
The Cubs finished at an uninspiring 84-78 overall in 2019, leaving the team in third place in the division and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Chicago will most likely be in the mix for a postseason spot during the shortened 2020 MLB campaign, so they’ll be an interesting team to watch. Check back all season long for free MLB picks and MLB predictions at Sports Chat Place.
Let’s take a closer look at Chicago’s current status and break down their chances at hitting their projected win total this year.
The Cubs’ 2019 season was a campaign of mixed results. Looking at the final win numbers in the season series, there are a few solid takeaways like a 6-1 record over Miami, 5-2 versus the Mets, 4-2 versus the Giants and 11-8 over Pittsburgh. That said, Chicago faltered in some other key matchups during 2019, like 8-11 versus Cincinnati and 9-10 versus both St. Louis and Milwaukee. If the Cubs had finished on the positive side of those season series numbers they’d have been NL Central champions. That seven-game swing is pretty tight when you think about it.
In any case, Chicago comes into a strange 2020 season with a decent shot at being in the mix for the National League Central title, most likely along with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. Specifically, Cincinnati gets the easiest schedule in the league on paper, but Chicago isn’t far behind, and St. Louis comes right afterward. That sets the stage for some pretty intense competition in the NL Central this year. Beating up on bad teams and racking up those wins is going to take on significant importance this season.
Regardless, 2020 is going to be a key year for the Cubs roster-wise. Both Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo have club options for next season, and the trio of Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant are only under team control through 2021. Those guys have been major contributors to the success in Chicago over the last few years, and if the Cubs’ 2020 season doesn’t show promise we could see a huge shakeup on the roster by way of trades and expired contracts.
On the mound, the Cubs have a pretty good-looking rotation projected. Yu Darvish headlines the group at No. 1, following a 3.98 ERA in 178.2 innings last year. Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quntana and Tyler Chatwood are expected to round out that potentially solid group, and Craig Kimbrel will take closer duties after 13 saves in 20.2 innings in 2019.
Pick: Going under, but just barely. In all honesty, the NL Central seems like a dice roll in 2020. It’s loaded with a quartet of teams (the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds) who all have a legitimate shot at taking the division title, and all those teams have relatively easy schedules on paper. Those teams will also be seeing each other often in 2020 and will be mostly to blame for each other’s losses when the season is finished. Unless they exceed expectation, I don’t think Chicago will power past what should be a great Reds squad in the NL Central standings this year.