Cubs core must improve or face another letdown

The Cubs need more help from the core stars in the lineup.

The Chicago Cubs appear set to take home the National League Central crown this year. The club has a 4.5-game lead entering play Monday and is the only team in the division over .500.

That means a return to the postseason after missing October baseball in 2019 for the first time since 2014. But that does not mean everything is going smoothly during this shortened season. The Cubs particularly need more help from some core stars to avoid another postseason letdown this October.

Cubs need more from the best players in town

The trio of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez is supposed to carry the offense. Yet not one of the three is batting above .205 and the highest OPS in the group is Rizzo’s mark of .715.

Bryant gets a little bit of slack as he has only appeared in 26 games and has dealt with a finger injury. He has only two home runs and four RBIs in 105 at-bats. Injury or not that is a major concern from an MVP-caliber player.

The Cubs won it all in 2016 and that instantly made the expectations as high as can be as long as this core remains in town. What followed was an NLCS exit in 2017 and a NL Wild Card defeat in 2018 before a year without playoff baseball last season.

The core staying in place is the problem now. Bryant and Baez each have one year of arbitration remaining and Rizzo has a club option for 2021. Bryant appears to be a prime trade candidate after his lost battle with the front office this past offseason if the two sides can’t come to an agreement on a mega-deal.

There is not enough money to give all three players their true value. That puts on the focus on competing for another World Series in 2020 before moves must be made. Jason Heyward is the star of the lineup this season, but he can’t carry the team himself.

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Rizzo, Bryant, and Baez will all need to figure out their struggles in the next two weeks as the first round of this year’s postseason is only a best-of-three series. It would be a shame to see this core fall apart after one short series during an already shortened season.

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