Apr 1, 2024 - Sports

Cubs return to Wrigley with lofty goals in 2024

cubs manager

Manager Craig Counsell stands in the dugout during a spring training game. Photo: John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The Cubs are counting on the hopes of spring to erase the failures of last fall, when they collapsed down the stretch.

The big picture: The Cubs are primed to make a run at the National League Central title and make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

Who's in: The Cubs didn't necessarily reload on the field, but they definitely did in the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell replaced David Ross.

  • Cody Bellinger returns, and they signed Japanese pitcher Shōta Imanaga, who is expected to start Monday. They also dealt for onetime closer Héctor Neris, who will provide insurance if current closer Adbert Alzolay falls short.

Who's out: Marcus Stroman, Jeimer Candelario and that's about it.

Strengths: Defense. This team has one of the best up-the-middle defenses in baseball, featuring Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner.

Weaknesses: So far, injuries. The Cubs lost ace Justin Steele to a hamstring injury already and many other key contributors are banged up to start the season.

The bottom line: Even though they started slow in Texas, this could be a good year for the Cubs, who are squarely out of rebuild mode and ready to contend for the NL Central crown.

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