2015 Chicago Cubs Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 4/2/2015
The Cubbies are often the favorite baseball team of the sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Why? Some Cubs fans are just so desperate (and overly optimistic) every year for a championship that they throw down money on Chicago futures to win the World Series. And we all know those haven't paid off since before Vegas was even born. Actually I'm pretty sure there was no such thing as futures odds when the Cubs last won the World Series.
This year, Cubs fever is downright crazy in Vegas (and at the offshore books) as they have taken more money on World Series futures than any other team by far. For example, this week the assistant manager at the Las Vegas MGM race and sports book said the number of Cubs bets more than doubles any other team in the World Series futures pool.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Are Cubs fans delirious or on to something? This franchise hasn't won more than 75 games since 2009. However, few teams made more positive headlines this offseason, perhaps the biggest being the hiring of former Rays manger Joe Maddon, maybe the best in the game. It does appear that the grand five-year plan of team president Theo Epstein is about to come to fruition with the Cubs having the top-rated farm system in baseball and Wrigley Field renovations, which will mean more money coming into the team and thus higher payroll, underway. Can you imagine Epstein's legacy if he ends the World Series droughts in both Boston and Chicago?
The Cubs open the season Sunday night at home against St. Louis . Wrigley is nowhere near done, by the way. I'm interested to tune in Sunday on ESPN because it's still a construction zone and there are no bleachers right now. The new left-center field Jumbotron, a first at Wrigley, will be ready.
Cubs 2015 Projected Lineup
Really no major departures from last year's lineup, with the team saying goodbye to platoon outfielder Justin Ruggiano and third baseman Luis Valbuena.
I'm going to give you the projected Opening Day lineup, but that will look different probably by around April 20 or so when the team finally calls up one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball in years in Kris Bryant, who will probably play third base but perhaps a corner outfield spot at times. The Cubs made big news this week in sending Bryant and another touted prospect, projected starting second baseman Javier Baez, to Triple-A. Bryant was killing the ball this spring and led all players with nine homers. He's ready offensively but a bit raw on defense. Don't let anyone kid you, this is all about a service-time issue. If Bryant isn't up by May 1, I would be totally shocked. Baez needed to go down as he strikes out way, way too much. His star is dimming a bit, but he still has plus-plus power and bat speed.
The leadoff hitter will be center fielder Dexter Fowler, who was acquired from Houston for Valbuena and minor-league pitcher Dan Straily. Great trade for the Cubs as center field/leadoff were huge holes, and obviously there would be no need soon for Valbuena. Fowler (.276, 35 RBIs, 11 steals in 116 games) will be just a one-year rental as he can become a free agent.
The Cubs' two All-Stars, shortstop Starlin Castro (.292, 14 HRs, 65 RBIs) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.286, 32 HRs, 78 RBIs), should hit second and third for now. Rizzo is going to win an MVP in his career and is a great defender. Castro is not a great shortstop, and this could be his last season on the North Side as the Cubs have the No. 1 shortstop prospect in MLB in Addison Russell. You will continue to hear rumors of Castro to Philly for Cole Hamels.
Rookie of the Year candidate Jorge Soler, the right fielder, should hit cleanup to start although Bryant could slot in there when he's up. Soler is a five-tool guy who fit in just fine as a late-season call-up last year, batting .292 with five homers and 20 RBIs in just 89 at-bats. The other major lineup acquisition was former All-Star catcher Miguel Montero (.243, 13 HRs, 72 RBIs) from Arizona, and he will bat fifth.
The bottom third of the lineup doesn't look great. It probably will be left fielder Chris Coghlan (.283, nine HRs, 41 RBIs), third baseman Mike Olt (.160, 12 HRs, 33 RBIs), who was largely overmatched last year before being sent down, and either Arismendy Alcantara or Tommy La Stella (acquired from Braves) at second. Both those guys can also play third and might on certain days, and Alcantara can also play the outfield. He will be a super-utility guy like Ben Zobrist was in Tampa for Maddon.
Cubs 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Perhaps the clearest sign that the Cubs have turned the corner in their rebuild and are ready to contend was the fact that the best lefty free-agent pitcher on the market, Jon Lester, chose the Cubs over a return to Boston or going to world champion San Francisco, to name two. Lester (16-11, 2.46) give the Cubs a true No. 1 they haven't had in years.
Jake Arrieta (10-5, 2.53) always had great stuff while with the Orioles but never put it together. He did last year with the Cubs and slots behind Lester. No. 3 Jason Hammel (10-11, 3.47) was excellent with Chicago last season before being traded to Oakland at the start of July. He wasn't good there, but maybe being back with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio will return Hammel to his NL form. Young Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.46) surprised everyone with how excellent he was in 13 late-season starts. He's probably not that good but a solid big-league starter. It appears lefty Travis Wood (8-13, 5.03) will be the No. 5 to open the season, although the Cubs would like to trade him.
Edwin Jackson (6.15, 6.33) was the worst pitcher in baseball last year and now will be an $11 million-a-year middle reliever unless the Cubs can find a taker (no way) or a rotation spot opens due to injury. Closer Hector Rondon (29 saves, 2.42 ERA) also really blossomed in 2014.
Cubs Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Chicago is +1600 to win the World Series, +700 to take the pennant, +300 third favorite in the NL Central and with an "over/under" wins total of 82.5 (over -125 favorite). Bryant is +2000 to lead the majors in homers and he will be NL Rookie of the Year favorite whenever brought up. Rizzo is +1400 to lead the majors in homers and +2000 to win NL MVP. His totals: .279, 30.5 homers, 89.5 RBIs. Lester is +2000 to win the Cy Young and has totals of 13.5 wins and 190.5 strikeouts. The Cubs were 83-79 against the spread last season and 82-73-7 O/U. On the moneyline, they were -450 units on the year.
Cubs 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Chicago to finish 84-78 and third in the NL Central. I just don't know about this team. It could win 90, lose 90 or anywhere in between. When will Bryant be up? Will the Cubs trade one of their top prospects for a Hamels type in July if in contention? How many wins is a great manager worth? I'm going over the wins but still think this is the third-best team in the division behind St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Watch out next year. Go over both on Lester (he'll fare better in the weaker NL), over on average and RBIs for Rizzo but just under on homers.
Doc's Sports MLB handicapping team is offering $60 worth of member's baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - Claim your free MLB picks here now. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's Free MLB Picks
Get all of Today's 100% Profit Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks