The Cubs can easily win the 2017 World Series. We have (arguably) the best bullpen in the National League. Even with Grimm who has looked, …well, you know.
Joe focused on “D-Peat” for a reason. He said over and over again, it’s the one thing you can control. Defense is just concentration and effort – both things these Cubs have control over – which could actually improve from 2017. If it’s a World Series hangover that is to be blamed on the slow start, I would think the next home stand would complete the sleep recovery. (The Indians aren’t exactly burning up their division – 1 game ahead of the Twins and 1.5 games in front of the White Sox and Tigers, 17-14.) I don’t see any rational reason to not project recovery on defense.
The Cubs offense will be fine. Rizzo will adjust as he did last year, Schwarber is/will adjust – just now reaching 100 games and learning what the league is doing to him. Heyward is already better and Zo is Mr. Consistency. Kris has shown sparks (or sparkles) and even Javy made adjustments this past week that are paying off. We don’t know about Willson’s offense but there is reason to believe he also will come around. I don’t think anyone truly believes that the Cubs won’t continue to improve this year offensively and possibly even improve on last year.
Which leaves us with the only remaining problem. Starting pitching. Lester and Hendricks are fine despite the hand wringing by some over Hendricks velocity. Apparently they’ve missed similar concerns the past 2 years on (fill in your favorite Hendricks fear here) and missed that Hendricks success comes from his mind, control and planning. These things do not degrade with experience at his age. Over the past 3 games (17.1 innings) Hendricks has given up only 2 runs, has a 1.04 ERA. Yes, it’s been at the favor of the Cubs defense. Just like it was all of last year. (Wait, wasn’t the Cubs D a problem? Hmmmm.) Hendricks is fine and will be fine.
Lackey, Arrieta and Anderson not only do not have a stable body of work going back to mid-year last year, there really isn’t ANY reason to believe they can pull out of their dive. Lackey is old and has a 4.15 ERA (4.54 FIP) since September of last year. He is as tenacious as they come but in reality is AT BEST a #5 rotation pitcher at this point. Jake proved again today (3.2IP, 9H, 9R -5 earned-, 3BB, 3K) he is not a top of rotation arm the Cubs can rely on. Hendricks, Lester have righted themselves. Going back to September of last year, Jake is hanging a 4.65 ERA. As pointed out his whiff rate is great but he’s giving up runs wholesale. We ONLY have the second half of 2015 and the first couple of months of 2016 of CY Young-like Jake. We would be – stoopid – to take that as his baseline. Getting more control by slowing his roll has made him seem more in control this year, but I don’t see what objective results would lead anyone to believe he could be one of the Cubs top 3 starters at this juncture.
Montgomery (1.17 ERA / 3.61 FIP in 2017 bullpen use) will likely be good enough to return to starting. He should swap rolls with Jake who right now only seems to have enough to be Travis Wood 2.0. Eddie Butler is waiting in AAA who has a 1.17 ERA in AAA and will quickly take a starting position role. If he can continue any semblance of what he is doing on the farm, we then only have a 5th starter problem.
Then we trade Ian Happ and Jemier Candelario for Chris Archer (16th best FIP, 12th best WHIP in all of MLB) and we win another world series.
Note to self: Call Theo.