Cubs

Hoyer, Cubs embrace “Underdog” Role in 2021

Hoyer, Cubs embrace “Underdog” Role in 2021

Baseball is back, America. Fans are back in the stands, and Opening Day is finally here. The feeling around Wrigleyville though seems to be a bit different than some most recent seasons. Rather than expecting the Cubs to finally “bounce back,” many are simply writing the team off now that they are five seasons removed from their World Series championship in 2016.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer, told Maddie Lee of NBC Sports, “It kind of gives our guys a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.” Former 2015 NL Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta also stated, “We don’t care about that. Honestly. That’s it. I haven’t heard any of it, I haven’t seen it, and it’s irrelevant.” 2021 would not be the first time the Cubs have proved doubters wrong as many picked the Cubs to finish 4th/5th place in the division a year ago. The Cubs ended up winning the NL Central in 2020.

The division did not really improve outside of the St. Louis Cardinals addition of Nolan Arenado this winter, but many see the down years of this Cubs offense a year ago as a sign of things to come rather than a blip in such a small sample size of a 60-game season. Guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras; they’re all going to have bounce back seasons given their track records, not to mention three of the four are in contract years.

Player 2019 Stats 2020 stats
Anthony Rizzo .293 AVG

.405 OBP

.520 SLG

.924 OPS

.222 AVG

.342 OBP

.414 SLG

.755 OPS

Javier Baez .281 AVG

.316 OBP

.531 SLG

.847 OPS

.203 AVG

.238 OBP

.360 SLG

.599 OPS

Kris Bryant .282 AVG

.382 OBP

.521 SLG

.903 OPS

.206 AVG

.293 OBP

.351 SLG

.644 OPS

Willson Contreras .272 AVG

.355 OBP

.533 SLG

.888 OPS

.243 AVG

.356 OBP

.407 SLG

.763 OPS

This current Cubs core is still very talented, and a season in which 102 games were not played should not be the determining factor in once again picking against this team. By that notion, the Miami Marlins should be viewed as contenders in the NL East, and we all know how that is being perceived right now.

The Cubs rotation is also a chief reason many are picking against the team, but the numbers for those that are coming in versus those that are now gone? Very telling.

Player (2020 Rotation) 2020 Rotation (2020 stats) Player (2021 Rotation) 2021 Rotation (2020 stats)
Kyle Hendricks 6-5

2.88 ERA

1.00 WHIP

81.1 IP

64 SO

8 BB

Kyle Hendricks

Yu Darvish (now SD) 8-3

2.01 ERA

0.96 WHIP

76.0 IP

93 SO

14 BB

Jake Arrieta (PHI) 4-4

5.08 ERA

1.51 WHIP

44.1 IP

32 SO

16 BB

Jon Lester (now WSH) 3-3

5.16 ERA

1.33 WHIP

61.0 IP

42 SO

17 BB

Zach Davies (SD) 7-4

2.73 ERA

1.07 WHIP

69.1 IP

63 SO

19 BB

Jose Quintana (now LAA) 0-0

4.50 ERA

1.30 WHIP

10.0 IP

12 SO

3 BB

Trevor Williams (PIT) 2-8

6.18 ERA

1.57 WHIP

55.1 IP

49 SO

21 BB

Alec Mills 5-5

4.48 ERA

1.16 WHIP

46 SO

19 BB

Adbert Alzolay 1-1

2.95 ERA

1.17 WHIP

29 SO

13 BB

Obviously whenever you subtract a Cy Young candidate like Darvish, your next season’s rotation is going to seem worse, but Hoyer and the Cubs are taking a big chance on bringing guys like Arrieta back and Trevor Williams who did not have the greatest supporting cast in Pittsburgh. Zach Davies told Lee, “I know people will talk about how it’s not a great group of starters or whatnot, just because of velocity and strikeouts and whatever. But I’ll take five guys that are going to work their ass off in the rotation and compete every single game, compared to guys with just pure stuff.” The new Cubs rotation will not rely heavily on strikeouts as much as past Cubs starters have, so the seven other guys standing behind them are going to have more of a chance to impact the defensive side of the game in 2021 as the new starting five are pitch-to-contact pitchers.

 

The Chicago Cubs (0-0) will begin their season TODAY (4/1), at 2:20pm EST against the Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0). Kyle Hendricks (0-0 0.00 ERA) will get the nod taking on Chad Kuhl (0-0 0.00 ERA).

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