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5 bold predictions for the 2023 Cubs

In which I go out on the proverbial limb to forecast the year to come.

Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

I’ve written articles on this topic in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 and... well, if you click on those links you’ll see that not many of them actually happened. I skipped doing one last January because of the uncertainty of even having a season because of MLB’s ongoing lockout at the time.

But now we have baseball labor peace, at least for the next four seasons, so I thought today might be a good time to revive this series and make some bold predictions. Of course, these might not happen. That’s what makes these predictions bold!

Adbert Alzolay will become the Cubs closer and post 40 saves

Last Friday I laid out my case for David Ross to install Alzolay as the team’s closer. I’ll stand by that article.

If Alzolay posts 40 saves he’ll become just the third pitcher in Cubs franchise history to do that. Randy Myers (53 in 1993) and Rod Beck (51 in 1998) are the only Cubs to post a 40+ save season.

Cody Bellinger will hit well enough to be named NL Comeback Player of the Year, and the Cubs will keep him with a contract extension

You want numbers on this, of course. In Bellinger’s best season to date, 2019, he hit .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 15 stolen bases, led the NL with 351 total bases and was voted NL MVP.

Here’s my bold numbers prediction for Bellinger: .275/.375/.490 with 30 home runs and 15 stolen bases. The Cubs will tear up his mutual option mid-season and sign him to a six-year, $155 million contract.

Kyle Hendricks will return to form

He won’t be quite as good as his spectacular 2016 season when he led the NL in ERA and finished third in Cy Young voting, but the Cubs’ improved defense will allow The Professor to make 33 starts (not missing any for injury) and post a 3.10 ERA and 1.100 WHIP. He’ll lead the league in walk rate, walking just 1.2 per nine innings.

Matt Mervis will be named National League Rookie of the Year

The Cubs’ new first baseman will bat .280/.345/.505 and hit 30 home runs, breaking Patrick Wisdom’s Cubs franchise record of 28 set in 2021. He won’t be a unanimous ROY selection, but his season will beat out fellow NL Central rookies Jordan Walker and Spencer Steer, who will finish second and third respectively.

The Cubs will win 87 games and be in the postseason as a wild card team

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Poll

Which of these bold predictions is most likely to come true?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Adbert Alzolay will become the Cubs closer and post 40 saves
    (148 votes)
  • 26%
    Cody Bellinger will hit well enough to be named NL Comeback Player of the Year, and the Cubs will keep him with a contract extension
    (580 votes)
  • 22%
    Kyle Hendricks will return to form
    (488 votes)
  • 18%
    Matt Mervis will be named National League Rookie of the Year
    (397 votes)
  • 25%
    The Cubs will win 87 games and be in the postseason as a wild card team
    (543 votes)
2156 votes total Vote Now