Publish date:

1 CUBS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP CHICAGO

Kyle Hendricks's velocity is back in the upper 80s, which is huge for him. His best pitch is the changeup, which sits at 80. Last year his fastball and changeup got too close together.... Yu Darvish was definitely tipping pitches in the World Series but they'll get it fixed. He's safer than Jake Arrieta and has bigger upside.... Anthony Rizzo is daring you to pitch inside and he takes the outer half away from a lot of pitchers, but he gets hit a lot. I'm surprised he hasn't been hurt more.... You gotta be aware of Willson Contreras, with his back-pick ability. This guy was a third baseman in the minors! They didn't think his bat was going to hold up and it just took off when he went behind the plate.... A trimmed down Kyle Schwarber is definitely moving better. Everybody talks about how bad he is in the outfield, but he tracks the ball pretty well and he's got an average arm. He's not bad in leftfield.... Javy Báez is probably the most gifted player defensively I've seen. At the plate, if you spin the breaking ball down and away, he pulls off a lot of balls. But he doesn't miss a lot of mistakes. If he had a little more plate discipline, he'd be an MVP candidate.... Addison Russell is an upright hitter, so there are holes down and away. They've incorporated a leg kick to try to get him to use his lower half more and tap into his power.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

After three straight playoff trips and a long-awaited World Series win, Cubs fans don't need much reason to get excited these days. If they do, though, they can think about this: Not only do they have one of the best teams in baseball, they have one of the youngest. The Cubs' Opening Day lineup will likely not have a single player older than 29, and of the 13 position players on that day's roster, just two will be in their 30s. That's similar to the rebuilding Padres, who have one thirtysomething in the lineup. The Cubs control all that talent through 2021, save Jason Heyward, who can opt out of his deal after the season. Buy that replica jersey; tell your daughter to pick a favorite player, like Kris Bryant; make a season-ticket deposit for '21. This core is going to be together, winning games, for a while.

OVER / UNDER

94.5

The young core that has played in three straight NLCS remains intact—and they added the offseason's best available pitcher, Yu Darvish.

THE LINEUP

FANTASY BREAKOUT

1. CENTERFIELD

Ian Happ

.252 BA/25 HR/11 SB

He had 24 homers as a rookie. His versatility—he also plays second—makes him even more valuable.

2. THIRD BASE

Kris Bryant

.532 SLG/33 HR/10 SB

3. FIRST BASE

Anthony Rizzo

.540 SLG/33 HR/10 SB

4. CATCHER

Willson Contreras

.268 BA/19 HR/5 SB

5. LEFTFIELD

Kyle Schwarber

.490 SLG/28 HR/2 SB

6. SHORTSTOP

Addison Russell

.441 SLG/18 HR/4 SB

7. RIGHTFIELD

Jason Heyward

.265 BA/12 HR/10 SB

8. SECOND BASE

Javier Báez

.258 BA/22 HR/12 SB

THE STAFF

1. LH STARTER

Jon Lester

13 W/3.92 ERA/1.26 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Yu Darvish

12 W/3.63 ERA/10.4 K9

3. LH STARTER

José Quintana

14 W/3.49/1.20 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Kyle Hendricks

11 W/4.03 ERA/1.29 WHP

CLOSER

Brandon Morrow

36 SV/3.60 ERA/9.4 K9

THE SKIPPER

Joe Maddon