Can the Cubs Win the World Series in 2021?
After the Cubs’ World Series victory in 2016, they have struggled to get back to their winning ways.
The Cubs have been forgotten about in their own division as the Brewers are Cardinals are now being chosen as potential winners of the NL Central and the Cubs falling to third.
They started the season at embarrassing levels of play, specifically in the batting department. At one point, they were being outhit by MLB’s pitchers, collectively.
Having turned it around in recent games, including series sweeps over the Dodgers and Padres, it’s time to ask a big question. Are the Cubs back?
Recent Success for the Cubs
The Cubs have been playing great baseball in their last 20 or so games. After their miserable offensive start, their bats are starting to heat up.
The Cubs offense has been powered by Kris Bryant (167 wRC+), Javier Baez (14 HR’s, 39 RBI), and recent call up Patrick Wisdom (5 HRs in 12 games).
Wisdom has had the highest slugging percentage of any Cub in the first 14 games of their career at a whopping .976. In the last 14 games, Bryant and Wisdom have been hitting the ball well, with slash lines and wRC+ as follows.
- Patrick Wisdom: wRC+ of 273, .400/.438/.976
- Kris Bryant: wRC+ of 147, .320/.346/.560
The Cubs’ pitching staff has also been excellent in their recent stretch and deserves a lot of credit. Craig Kimbrel (0.78 ERA in 23 innings) has led to the bullpen to an amazing stretch of 32 scoreless innings.
Kimbrel along with Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, and Dan Winkler have carried the bullpen and the Cubs to a great month of pitching.
The starting pitching has been getting better as well with Kyle Hendricks getting back into form and Adbert Alzolay as a rising star. In the last 30 days, the Cubs have had the lowest team ERA in all of baseball at 2.72.
Kris Bryant’s MVP-Level Performance
Kris Bryant came into this year with his next big contract in mind. The former 2016 NL MVP has struggled with his health and pay in the past couple years, but like the other Cubs’ core players, he hits unrestricted free agency next season.
Bryant has turned up the heat coming into this year and should be credited with a lot of their success. He currently has the 4th highest wRC+ in the entire MLB at 167, behind Vladimir Guerrero, ex-Cub Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker.
With the Cubs in first place in the NL Central Division, their decision to keep or trade Bryant at the trade deadline is going to be crucial.
They have shown that they have the talent to make a run after their impressive sweeps of the Dodgers and Padres, but can they build some distance between the Cardinals and Brewers before decisions need to be made?
The Cubs face the Dodgers and Padres again this month, with important series against the Cardinals, Mets, Brewers, and Reds before the trade deadline.
Upcoming Contract Details
Baez and Rizzo also become free agents with Bryant after this season. Other players such as Matt Duffy, Eric Sogard, Zach Davies, Dan Winkler, and Ryan Tepera will hit the market following this season as well.
Willson Contreras, Joc Pederson, Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams, Criag Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin, and Jake Marisnick hit the open market the following year in 2023.
The roster in 2024 may not even have anyone from the 2016 World Series team. Trade deadlines will be the where the Cubs decide to flip their roster and start a rebuild or make a run at the postseason.
Their recent play is going to make for a tough decision for Jed Hoyer and the front office. With Kris Bryant’s agent being the infamous Scott Boras, he may be the first to leave.
Potential to Buy and Sell
Anyone who knows the Cubs, knows that the last couple years have been full of long stretches of bad baseball. The middle to end of the past couple seasons have really been tough on the Cubs, especially.
They were eliminated by the Marlins in 2020, failed to make the playoffs in 2019, eliminated by the Rockies in 2018 (Wild Card), and beat by the Dodgers in NLCS in 2017.
Everyone thought that the Cubs were going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come because their core of Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, and Contreras was going to be intact. That hasn’t exactly been the case.
With the contracts of those players coming up at the end of this season and next, the Cubs could destroy the core this year at the trade deadline. The Cubs will be a team to keep an eye out for these next two months, as the trade deadline creeps closer and closer.
NL Central Competition for the Cubs
The Brewers and Cardinals are no stranger to the Cubs. The Cubs and Cardinals have been battling it out every year since 1892, and this year is no different.
With a roster consisting of talented players in Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals can cause problems for the Cubs later this year.
The Brewers have an incredible pitching staff in Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Josh Hader, Freddy Peralta, and talented hitter, Christian Yelich back to full health. The standings at the time as writing are as follows.
- Chicago Cubs: 32-26
- Milwaukee Brewers: 32-26
- St. Louis Cardinals: 31-28, 1.5 GB
- Cincinnati Reds: 27-29, 4.0 GB
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 23-34, 8.5 GB
Here are the current odds to win the division, available at all top baseball betting sites.
With the Brewers starting to heat up along with the Cubs, their +130 odds seem to be at a great price. Buying the Brewers now might be your best bet because the Cubs may get cold at the wrong time and sell at the deadline.