Over the last four years, the Chicago Cubs have emerged as one of the better franchises in baseball. But last season they lost the division to the Brewers and the wild card game to the Rockies. Despite that, hopes were high for the Cubs to contend in 2019.
However, with the Cardinals and Brewers expected to be good once again, it wouldn’t be easy even in their division. With the talent among other NL teams like the Dodgers, Phillies, and Braves, it wouldn’t be easy to win the NL Pennant either. As for winning the World Series, the AL has four teams with shorter odds than the best NL team.
Will the Cubs be good? Of course. Will they make the playoffs? Probably. Win their division or anything else? That’s a good question.
Offense has not been an issue for the Cubs, and their pitching hasn’t been bad either. However, they have had one glaring deficit that has kept them from establishing control of their division—they have struggled to close out games.
After 61 games, they are tied for sixth in baseball with 25 save opportunities and have failed to convert 12 of them, giving them the second lowest save percentage in the game (52 percent).
The Cubs have not had a set closer this season choosing to go with a closer-by-committee approach that has clearly not worked out too well. However, it now seems that they have addressed that deficiency by signing Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel had some issues last season for the Boston Red Sox but still managed to save 42 games during the regular season, had a 2.74 ERA, and struck out 96 batters in just 62 1/3 innings. Throughout his career, he has 333 saves and only 34 blown saves (3.8 a season) with an ERA of 1.91 and 868 strikeouts.
But if he is so good, why was he available? How come the Red Sox let him go? After his struggles in the ALDS and ALCS last year they lost confidence in him. When you don’t believe in a closer, it is hard to justify paying him.
Assuming he can return to his once-dominant form, he will be a great addition to the Cubs roster and should make them a better team. Good enough to bet on? Well (odds via 888sports)…
- Odds of winning NL Central– +140
The Brewers are currently close behind at +180. But one Kimbrel is up and running the Cubs odds are probably going to get shorter. Milwaukee will give them a run for their money but look for the Cubs to win the division this year.
- Odds of winning the NL— +700
They already have the third best odds behind the Dodgers (+160) and Phillies (+500). They can beat the Phillies but beating the Dodgers will not be easy in a best of seven series. However, for the payout that comes with those odds, it would be worth a small-to-modest a wager.
- Odds of winning the World Series– +1600
It is unlikely that any NL team wins the Series this season. The frontrunners in the AL are playing way too well. However, at those odds, it may be worth placing a small wager in hopes that the Cubs catch a few breaks and steal a win.
Now that the Cubs have a legitimate closer, it would be better to bet on the Cubs now before he starts playing and their odds get shorter.