How prepared are the Cubs for injuries? How strong is the depth chart?
Injuries are one of the worst handicaps to overcome, and it doesn’t matter how good your lineup is, losing players in crucial positions, particularly starting pitchers, can cripple a team for months. The Cubs are well-stocked with guys who can step out and start, and have had good luck with some creative bullpen platooning, though that method can drain your relief staff over time.
With a solid rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, backed by potential starters Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Travis Wood, barring multiple injuries or other unforeseen circumstances, what’s required of these guys is to pitch to their potential. If Arrieta is even close to his Cy Young Award performance of last year, and the others provide solid, quality starts, they have plenty of offense to lead them to a winning season.
The bullpen ended last season looking very strong, and is mostly intact. They’ve lost Jason Motte and Fernando Rodney, but added Adam Warren to a solid core of Wood, Cahill, and Richard, followed by middle and late relievers Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop, and anchored by closer Hector Rondon.
The outfield is well covered with Chris Coghlan, Ben Zobrist and Matt Szczur ready to step in when needed. The infield is also deep. Javier Baez is ready to play short stop, second, or third if needed, along with Tommy La Stella, who can also take second or third. Rizzo has no official backup at first, but Coghlan and Bryant have both played the position before.
At catcher, the Cubs will need Miguel Montero to stay strong and healthy. David Ross is a solid backup, but not going to make 100 starts if Montero gets injured. They also have rookie Kyle Schwarber, who needs some seasoning behind the plate, and top prospect Willson Contreras waiting in the wings.