Cubs TLS Staff Roundtable Discussion White Sox

Chicago Sports Roundtable: Cubs Obstacles in Bid for Repeat, Carlos Rodon Injury Concerns

Join the “TLS” writers in a roundtable discussion every Monday on The Loop Sports! This Week we talk about what obstacles lie ahead of the Cubs on their path to a repeat as World Series Champions, and the level of concern surrounding Carlos Rodon‘s injury.

The Loop Sports Staff Roundtable for the week of April 4, 2017:

What is the biggest obstacle in the way of a potential Cubs World Series Championship repeat in 2017?

Matt Grabianski: There’s significantly more competition this year for the Cubs, not just in the National League but throughout the league as a whole. The Indians are (close to) healthy again with a complete rotation AND Edwin Encarnacion, putting them way ahead of where they were last year, and if the Red Sox starting pitching actually lives up to its potential they will be a 100-plus win team.

That being said, I think the biggest obstacle isn’t a team but starting pitching regression. Every starter on the roster besides Jake Arrieta had career years in 2016 (and Arrieta was still pretty good), and this starting rotation was a huge part of their magnificent season. Pitching coach Chris Bosio is going to have his hands full making sure that Lester, Hendricks, and Lackey can repeat what they did last year.
Brett Anderson needs to stay healthy, something he’s notorious for not doing very well, and even Arrieta needs to find some semblance of control. If the starting pitching can repeat what they did in 2016, there’s no reason why the Cubs won’t be the best team in baseball again, but if they follow normal regression curves, they might end up as the underdogs at some point in 2017.
Jason Callan: Plot twist. The Cubs biggest obstacle in 2017 will be themselves. It seems as if they’re set up for a repeat in 2017 and are basically a lock to be playing in the NLCS. One of the only ways the Cubs fail in 2017 is if they don’t do the things they’re supposed to do – hit with men in scoring position (a task that has always troubled them in the past), over power teams with their offense and maintain a healthy pitching rotation.
The bullpen may be the achilles heel of the Cubs, considering they lost many key pitchers from 2016 (Chapman, Wood, eh Cahill). If the bullpen can hold leads and take some pressure off starters, then 2017 will be another great year.
Patrick Flowers: I’m going to echo what Matt and Jason already touched on, and go with their pitching staff being the biggest hurdle on the path to their repeat this season. On paper, their rotation is among the best in baseball. When you take into account things like regression, coupled with the difficulty to duplicate the consistency that the rotation saw last season, all signs point to a lesser performance here in 2017.
Anders Johanson: I don’t see anything in the National League necessarily getting in the way of the Cubs, but at the risk of getting too meta I think the Cubs’ biggest obstacle could be themselves. Those kids are going to put a lot of pressure on themselves to repeat. The Nationals will most likely be mismanaged, the Mets will eventually see a lot of injuries, but the Cubs just need to make sure they go out and play every day the same way they did last year in order to see success
Benjamin Davis: I’d say the health of the starting rotation is the biggest obstacle to a repeat. The Cubs rotation is much older than the rest of the team, and last year they stayed healthy to a miraculous extent. In order for another postseason run to happen, this team needs to do everything it can to keep the starters fresh and loose for October baseball.
Tim Moran: Regression. Hendricks seemed to over-perform last year, and Arrieta declined over the course of the year. If those two become just decent starters, instead of great ones, they’ll have a hard time winning with pitching.

What are your feelings on the Carlos Rodon injury, how concerned are you about the former third overall draft pick?

Credit: Anders Johanson / The Loop Sports

Matt Grabianski: The Sox need to make sure that Rodon gets healthy. He’s one of the only players on this Opening Day squad to have any sort of future with the team, and he’s also one of the only quality players; if (or should I say when) Quintana is traded he’s going to be the ONLY decent starter.

Obviously this isn’t going to make or break the White Sox, but for now, it’s pretty rough having one of your few solid guys suffering from multiple consecutive injuries. Not only is it bad for the major league team now, but it also is a scary sign for the top pitching prospects the Sox have coming.

Injury problems like this sometimes stem from insufficient or just ineffective player development, so this development system needs to make sure that they fix Rodon, if not for Sox fans’ sanity this year, then for the slew of pitching prospects that are coming in the next few years.

Jason Callan: General Manager Rick Hahn announced Rodon will be out until mid-May, barring any setbacks along the way. The injury is kind of scary, considering he went from day-to-day to missing potentially 2 months overnight. Fingers crossed he has a healthy, drama free recovery. But the best thing to do for now, this coming from a Cubs fan, is to just take it slow with Rodon. There’s no need to rush him back early, especially if the Sox start slow this season.

Patrick Flowers: Carlos Rodon‘s injury, if in fact there is no structural damage like the club has claimed, it shouldn’t affect the White Sox in any way other than helping them meet the fan’s #tankforbeer hopes with guys like Dylan Covey and Anthony Swarzak assuming his starts until mid-May.

Take it slow, get him back completely healthy and let’s hope he can recreate his second half of the 2016 season and finally begin to live up to his original expectations as he moves closer to becoming the ace of the staff when Jose Quintana is traded.

Anders Johanson: Let Rodon recover at the rate he needs to. No sense in rushing him back to the mound, especially in a year that’s supposed to be as overwhelmingly meh as 2017 looks to be.

Tim Moran: I’m not very concerned because there was no structural damage revealed in his MRI, or the second opinion, and this year is not a big one for the Sox. I have no problem with him sitting out in order to ensure his health over a long period of time.

Matthew Smith: I have my tinfoil hat on. The White Sox knew he was hurt and misled us. The conversation went something like this:

Rick Renteria: Rodon with another bullpen session, but there’s no issue. He’s fine. Just taking it slow.
Rick Hahn: [whispers] You think they bought it?
Renteria: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s all so frustrating as my one hope was the club not looking lost on the way to 100 losses, yet here we are. Rodon is out for up to six weeks, and there is doubt surrounding how much the club knew. Not an auspicious beginning, to say the least.

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