The Chicago Cubs are heading into the 2016 MLB postseason as the team that many expect to win the World Series. It has been 108 years since the Cubs last won a championship, but perhaps this is the year that fans have been waiting for. Ever since the start of the season, Cubs’ fans have been in party mode and have a stronger belief that their time has come than they have had in a long time.
Joe Maddon has instilled confidence into his team, and Theo Epstein has put an impressive roster together. On paper, the Cubs should win the World Series in dominating fashion.
Chicago made it clear that they were going all out to win a World Series this season with their midseason acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. They gave up a hefty price to bring Chapman on board, but he has been exactly what the team had hoped. Chapman has pitched 24.2 innings with the Cubs, recording a 1.09 ERA and 16 saves.
That being said, the Cubs have a long history of coming through with disappointing postseason runs. Back in 2007 and 2008, the Cubs were hyped up as a potential World Series contender as well. Both years, the Cubs ended up falling in the National League Division Series.
It will be interesting to see what the postseason has in store for the Cubs this season. There is no denying that they have put together one of the best combinations of offense and pitching that baseball has seen recently.
All of that being said, what five keys are there for the Chicago Cubs to have success in the 2016 MLB postseason?
Kyle Hendricks Must Continue His Dominant Pitching
First and foremost, the Cubs need Kyle Hendricks to continue pitching in the dominant fashion that he has shown throughout the entire 2016 season. He has compiled a 16-8 record to go along with a 1.99 ERA. Hendricks has been arguably the best pitcher in Chicago’s rotation and will be asked to play a huge role in the playoffs as well.
Javier Baez Must Live Up to His X-Factor Status
It has become obvious this season that Javier Baez is the Cubs’ X-Factor heading into the postseason. He has recorded a.274 batting average to go along with 14 home runs and 58 RBI’s this season. Baez will be asked to play a huge role in the offense, but will also be relied upon due to his top-notch glove.
Chicago Needs Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop to Step Up
Everyone knows that the Cubs have Aroldis Chapman, who is arguably the most dominant closer in all of baseball. Before him, however, Chicago will need both Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop to step up. Chicago is hoping to have those two pitch ahead of Chapman late in games, and they simply cannot afford to give up runs late in games.
Jake Arrieta Needs to Return to Superstar Form
While Jake Arrieta has had a solid all-around 2016 campaign with the Cubs, he hasn’t been the superstar that he was last season. He has recorded an 18-7 record to go along with a 2.85 ERA this season. Chicago needs Arrieta to regain his superstar form in the postseason and be a formidable opponent for any batter that he faces.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo Must Bring Consistency
There is no question that Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo form one of the most dominant duos in all of baseball. It is also not a question that both players have had consistency issues throughout their careers. Chicago cannot afford either of their sluggers to struggle in the postseason and need consistency throughout every game.
Expect to see the Chicago Cubs make a deep postseason run this year. There is always a chance that the Cubs’ curse catches up to them again, but this team feels just a little bit different than in years past.
Do you think the Chicago Cubs will end up winning the World Series this season? If not, who do you think will end up knocking the Cubs off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP Images]