Could it be possible for a Cubs team to be better than the 2016 version that finally won the World Series? There could be this season with a new look staff, starting rotation, and bullpen that may push the Cubs to the World Series once again in 2018. First things first, the Spring Training games and regular season come before the Playoffs, and we will be looking at 10 Fearless Predictions for the Cubs 2018 Season.
- The Starting Rotation Will be the Best in Baseball:
It’s going to be very hard to top the 2016 staff of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and John Lackey, but this year’s may be just as good or better. You still have Lester and Hendricks, but since that season including last season and this offseason, the Cubs have added names like Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, and Tyler Chatwood for what could be an amazing rotation. If you put that rotation together in the order of Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood you have three potential 20-game winners and 2 easy 15-game winners. That right there adds up to 90 wins plus whatever the relievers can provide in the win-loss column. The only other team that comes to mind with a competitive rotation would be Houston who has two potential 20-game winners and 3 potential 15-game winners. Still, the Cubs will have the best rotation in Baseball that also has great postseason experience.
- A New Look Coaching Staff Will Benefit:
Chris Bosio was a great pitching coach, and John Mallee was a great hitting coach. Don’t take it wrong, but they helped the Cubs win the World Series. 2016 was a magical year which is almost nearly impossible to repeat. 2017 had some great moments, but this was not the same Cubs team down the stretch in the postseason. The pitching and hitting looked out of gas in the NLCS which is why the Dodgers won 4-1. The problem would have to fall on the shoulders of Chris Bosio and John Mallee. The Cubs responded in the offseason by naming Jim Hickey the new pitching coach and Chili Davis the new hitting coach. Now you have Joe Maddon’s guy from Tampa as the pitching coach and a well-rounded hitting coach from the Red Sox who could be Theo Epstein’s guy. Each has worked with some top-notch pitchers and hitters and the new look coaching staff could benefit all the Cubs players.
- The NL Central is Ours in 2018:
Look at what the Cubs have done this offseason to completely change the dynamic of the team. There were only a few changes, but they are substantial enough to separate them from the rest of the NL Central. As you probably remember from last season, the division was a tight race down to the end where the Cubs kept on winning and found enough separation to win it again. Now the goals for the Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, and Reds are to dethrone the back-to-back NL Central Champion, the Cubs. What did they do this offseason, you might ask? Nothing compared to the Cubs. The only really good player that signed with another NL Central team was Lorenzo Cain who went to Milwaukee. There are literally just two players in CBS Sports’ Top-50 Free Agents Tracker than went to an NL Central team besides the Cubs. Just for reference, the Cubs scooped up three of those players including the No. 4-ranked Yu Darvish. That’s why the NL Central will be the Cubs once again in 2018.
- Brandon Morrow has Lockdown Closer Potential:
Many blamed the Cubs for not going after Wade Davis that much in free agency, who had been a very good closer for them in 2017. They responded to that by signing a much cheaper option from the Dodgers, Brandon Morrow to a 2-year, $21-million deal. Now although that he has not been a closer more recently, he did have some experience back in 2008 with Seattle. He had 10 saves and 3 holds in 45 appearances. Since that season, Morrow has primarily been the setup man much like Justin Wilson with the Blue Jays, Padres, and the Dodgers last season. For his role with the Cubs, a closer seems to be the most likely position for Morrow in the bullpen. Morrow’s 2.06 ERA last season is very appealing to Joe Maddon which is why he will make the transition back to a closer. Now for the dominance, Morrow has a 2.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 0.8 WAR over the past three seasons. Imagine those kinds of numbers as a closer in the ninth inning for the Cubs. Brandon Morrow truly has lockdown closer potential in 2018 despite not having experience for the last ten years.
- 2018 Will Finally be the Breakout Year for Kyle Schwarber:
We are not dismissing 30 home runs from Kyle Schwarber last season in 129 games. We are not discounting 16 home runs in 69 games in 2015 for “Schwarbino”. It’s just that Kyle Schwarber really hasn’t had his big year, yet which was going to be 2016 if he hadn’t torn his ACL in just the second game against the Diamondbacks. His comeback in the World Series and 2017 was miraculous from such a scary injury, but Schwarber is still destined for a monster season. Now that he has more experience and is in a much healthier shape we learned this offseason, 2018 will finally be the breakout year for Kyle Schwarber. It would not be a surprise for Schwarber to belt 40 home runs, hit around .270, and knock in around 80-100 RBI. It does not matter if Kyle Schwarber is in the leadoff spot or fifth in the order, he should have an incredible 2018 and the numbers back him up. Plus losing about 20 pounds in the offseason and finally giving up on catching could finally be the turning point for Schwarbs. Expect big things in 2018 from Kyle Schwarber.
- *Bonus* The Cubs Will Win it All in 2018:
With all the hype everything from the new additions to the new look coaching staff, to the improved Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs can win the World Series again in 2018. They have the hitting, they have the incredible pitching, they have the strong relief pitching, and they have the right coaches and front office surrounding them. With what appears to be a weak NL Central outside of the Cubs in 2018, not only will the dominate the rivals like the Nationals did against the NL East, they will dominate the National League. Try to name one team that is better than the Cubs right now in the entire league. The Houston Astros once again are the only competitor, but they still are not as formidable as the Cubs. Prepare for another amazing season Cubs fans.