The 2021 Chicago Cubs are at a crossroads, and this season will be make or break for the “core four”. Cubs stars Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant are all in their final contract year, while catcher Willson Contreras is two years away from hitting the open market. While eyes are glued on those four, who are some other players Cubs fans should look out for in 2021?
The biggest new face coming to Wrigley this season has to be the 28-year-old outfielder, Joc Pederson. Seemingly coming to Chicago to cover the vacancy in leftfield after the departure of slugger Kyle Schwaber.
Pederson brings many things to the table, most notably his eerily similar statistics to Schwaber. Pederson a seven-year veteran, Schwaber a six-year veteran. Both of which hold a career .230 batting average, .336 OBP, and a .10 difference in their slugging percentage. Pederson has 130 home runs and 303 RBIs, while Schwarber has 121 home runs and 279 RBIs, although Pederson has 347 more at-bats.
As it hurt Cubs fans to see Schwarber depart to Washington, the addition of Pederson makes it less painful. While not a clear loss at the plate and a surefire upgrade in the outfield, the addition has the potential to be a game-changer for the 2021 Chicago Cubs.
The 2021 Chicago Cubs pitching rotation is not what it was after the departures of Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana. The lone bright spot in the departure could be the players the Cubs received in the Darvish deal, one of which is pitcher Zach Davies.
Davies is a six-year MLB veteran pitcher who primarily pitched for the NL Central rival Milwaukee Brewers. Davies is closing in on 500 career strikeouts, which he should hit in his first start, as he is now sitting at 497 strikeouts. He also holds a 3.79 career ERA making him a solid middle rotation guy. Although he is no Yu Darvish, he could play a vital role in the Cubs rotation.
Another 2021 Chicago Cubs player for fans to watch is reliever Rowan Wick. Wick may not be eye-popping, but with under 60 innings pitched, he has should have the potential to be viable to a Cubs bullpen that has struggled the past couple of seasons.
Wick was traded to Chicago in 2018 and debuted with the Cubs in 2019. Since joining the Cubs Wick has appeared in 50 games, posting a 2.66 ERA, with 55 strikeouts, and six saves. These are not dazzling statistics by any means but Wick has the potential to be a big part of the Cubs bullpen moving forward.
2021 could mark a major step in Wick’s career, if he can rekindle his numbers from 2019 he has a legitimate shot to work his way up the bullpen to being potentially a setup man or even the Cubs’ future closer.
Other 2021 Chicago Cubs To Watch
Joc Pederson, Zach Davies, and Rowan Wick are just a few of the many players 2021 Chicago Cubs for fans to watch. Others to keep an eye on are some of the young pitchers looking to make their mark in MLB; players such as Adbert Alzolay and Brailyn Márquez. Also, with Bryant in his walk year, a guy to keep a close eye on his potential replacement, David Bote. The Cubs may look a lot different in 2021 and have low expectations, but there will still be many different storylines and a team to get behind this season.
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