A couple of weeks ago Buster Olney took a look at linchpin players for several teams across baseball. Not the players that are essential to their team’s success during the upcoming season, but players who “are positioned to make a major difference” for their respective club.
Olney pointed to Justin Verlander (Tigers), Yasiel Puig (Dodgers), Anthony Rendon (Nationals), Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays), Carlos Santana (Indians), Randal Grichuk (Cardinals), Michael Pineda (Yankees), Andrew Heaney (Angels), Miguel Sano (Twins), Prince Fielder (Rangers), Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Noah Syndergaard (Mets), Johnny Cueto (Giants) and Yasmany Tomas (Diamondbacks) being the linchpins for their teams. But he did not mention any Cubs in his report. And that omission raised the question which position player or pitcher is the Cubs linchpin?
It’s fairly safe to say that Jake Arrieta and how he follows up his Cy Young season is one of the keys to the Cubs reaching their goals this year. Any prolonged absence or lack of production from Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant would be difficult for Joe Maddon to work around.
So with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training today, let’s get back to discussing baseball and sharing our opinions. Which player or pitcher do you think is the linchpin for the Cubs this season?
There are two players that quickly popped in my mind, one pitcher and one position player.
The Cubs took off last year when Kyle Schwarber was called up and inserted into the order on a daily basis, either in left field or behind the plate. Schwarber lengthened the lineup while giving Maddon a left-handed power bat to compliment Rizzo. Schwarber has to make adjustments this year as teams started figuring him out. And he has to improve against left-handed pitching … the .143/.213/.268 line against southpaws will relegate him to a platoon player.
On the pitching side, for me, it’s Jon Lester. Arrieta has moved ahead of Lester in Maddon’s rotation but with a year under his belt and the weight of the contract off his shoulders, Lester is primed for a very good season. Lester pitching behind Arrieta in the rotation should give the Cubs a very good 1-2 punch from the right and left side.
With the Cactus League games getting underway in 13 days, the game discussions (Talkin’ Cubs Live) will soon return so I thought this was a good way to re-engage the community here and simply get back to discussing baseball.
There are no right or wrong answers, only opinion and discussion.
On the day pitchers and catchers report to Cubs camp and the off-season officially comes to an end, I invite all of our readers to talk about baseball again, not the Hot Stove Season, but actual baseball and the games that will soon be played in Arizona before one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history begins on April 4.
Who do you think is the Cubs linchpin?
I am looking forward to building the community back to where all of our readers feel they are welcome to give their opinion and talk about baseball and the Chicago Cubs.
Let’s have fun. Let’s Talk Cubs baseball …