Friday saw both the Cubs and White Sox’ truncated 2020 seasons come to an inglorious end, with the Cubs being dumped in a two game sweep by the Miami Marlins and the Sox losing in three games to the Oakland A’s.
While both endings can certainly be seen as disappointing, they can each be viewed in separate context.
The Cubs made their fifth appearance in the postseason in six years. After three straight years of getting at least to the NLCS (and getting to the top of the mountain in 2016), their last two appearances have been terrible. After stinking up the 2018 Wild Card Game by scoring one run in 13 innings, they actually did worse in 2020. They flushed two good starting pitching performances by scoring one run in 18 innings.
Meanwhile, the White Sox did not squander an outstanding start by Lucas Giolito, and managed to win a game. But this was their first postseason appearance in over a decade, and where the Cubs’ early exit seemed like the last gasp of a team about to be broken up, the Sox early exit was a young team just getting its feet wet.
The Sox are ready to start pushing the Twins for the top spot in the AL Central, especially once Michael Kopech rejoins the rotation for the 2021 season. If (granted, a large if) Dylan Cease can ever harness his ungodly stuff, the Sox instantly become a force to be reckoned with atop the American League.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have some big decisions to make. Including who will be making the decisions. Theo Epstein is entering the last year of his contract, and today when he holds his end-of-the-season press conference that will be one of the popular topics of discussion. They’ve got a lot of guys who are due for large contracts come 2022, and Epstein has got to be tired of the Ricketts family turning their pockets inside out.
Meanwhile, Rick Hahn had the foresight to sign players identified as core guys to long term deals out of the gate – Eloy Jiminez is under team control through 2026, Luis Robert through 2027 and Tim Anderson through 2024. Add to that the young players still coming through the pipeline, such as Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn, and you can see the window of contention lasting a good long while.
All this means that we should have an interesting offseason on both sides of Chicago, as one team continues tooling to keep moving in an upward direction, and the other will have to choose a direction in which to move.
Stay tuned, as we’ll be giving out postseason report cards for both teams in the coming days/weeks, and we’ll get back to dumb stuff like Catcher of the Week.