Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: Chicago Cubs
By Max Rayman
The Cubs and the Nationals seem to be going in different directions. One is on top while the other watched from home. Will this year be different?
Chicago’s 2019 record: 84-78
Washington’s record vs. Chicago: 4-2
Chicago added/re-signed: Ryan Tepera
Chicago lost: Addison Russell*, Derek Holland*, Nicholas Castallanos*
*The player is still a free agent
Three years after winning the World Series and looking like a dynasty on the rise, the Cubs have fallen apart. They missed the playoffs completely in 2019 after losing ten of their last 12 games to end the season. Chicago’s front office fired manager Joe Maddon before the season ended and hired fan favorite David Ross to right the ship. Now the Cubs face many questions such as the fate of third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant has been in trade rumors due to the Cubs wanting to cut payroll. The problem is that teams won’t know if Bryant will have one or two years left on his rookie deal. He is currently filed a grievance about his service time. He believes the Cubs waited to pull him up from the minors even though he was ready in order to secure an extra year of his services. The decision will tell teams how much they will need to give up to acquire him.
With an offensive core of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Wilson Contreras, and Kyle Schwaber, the Cubs have the ability to torch opposing pitchers. Instead they have become complacent at times. Last season the offense ranked 10th in RBI’s (783), sixth in homers (256), 13th in batting average (.252), and eighth in OPS (.785). The Cubs offense finished near the top in most of the categories. So then why did they regress so much? Because at the most crucial times, the offense fell apart. A prime example was the final stretch for the Cubs. They had a small lead in the Wild Card race over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs then went on to lose eight straight and ten of their last twelve to finish fifth in the Wild Card. It will be up to Ross to keep the offense in check and not allow for them to become stagnant at the most inopportune times.
Nationals to Watch
With David Ross as the new manager, he will look to jump start an offense that has become stagnant since 2016. With an offensive lineup that can beat opposing pitchers from top to bottom, the Cubs look to be dangerous. This is where Patrick Corbin steps in. Corbin is the third ace on the Nationals and at times can be the forgotten man. After all, he is pitching behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
What Corbin has going for him, is that he’s a lefty. Last year the Cubs lineup struggled against lefties compared to when they faced a right hander. For example, in 2019 the Cubs hit .239 and .256 against lefties and righties respectively. Corbin is coming off of a solid first year with the Nats where he went 14-7, with a 3.25 ERA, and 238 strikeouts. The current Cubs roster is hitting .255 with an OPS of .715 in 102 at bats against the lefty. A key match-up to keep an eye on is Corbin vs. Baez. Baez is hitting .357 with two homers against the 30 year old. While the Cubs offense has struggled the last few years, Baez has only gotten better. If Baez can get to Corbin early, than Corbin will never be allowed to settle in and will be thrown off. This match-up can set the pace of the game.
2020 Series Prediction
April 16-19 in D.C.
May 8-10 @ Chicago
The Cubs are going backwards while the Nats are on top of the world. Expect the Nats to overpower the Cubs once again.
Prediction: Nats win the season series: 4-2