Cubs News

24 for ’24: Will the 2024 Cubs make the playoffs?

3 weeks agoTony Andracki and Andy Martinez

As the Cubs embark on a new campaign with a new manager (Craig Counsell) at the helm, we answer 24 of the most pressing questions for the 2024 season.

In past years when we’ve done this series of questions, we’ve asked: “What does a successful season look like for the Cubs?”

But with heightened expectations, we wanted to tweak it to an updated version.

Simply put: The only way 2024 can be considered successful for the Cubs is by playing October baseball.

With Craig Counsell on the top step of the dugout and Cody Bellinger back in the fold, there is certainly plenty of reason for optimism around the team.

But…will the Cubs make the playoffs? Our analysts weigh in.

Andy Martínez 

The Cubs are practically in a sweet spot that every organization strives to be in — a core of proven veterans mixed with a wave of young, promising talent on the cusp ready to contribute.

It’s the formula for a successful season and one that should lead to a playoff appearance.

In 2023, the Rangers and Diamondbacks showed what is possible when that is the case. Ketel Marte, Merrill Kelly and Chirstian Walker were joined by Corbin Carroll, Geraldo Perdomo and Gabriel Moreno to lead the Diamondbacks to a National League pennant. Evan Carter, Ezequiel Duran and Josh Jung combined with Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to help the Rangers win their first World Series.

Could Michael Busch, Jordan Wicks and Pete Crow-Armstrong gel with Cody Bellinger, Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner to guide them on a deep playoff run? It’s certainly possible.

“I think the great thing that the Cubs have going on right now is that there’s a lot of kids you can talk about and so and that’s fun,” Counsell said. “They’re all on this journey to try to become guys. Some of them will, some of them won’t, but there’s enough of them that you know the odds are really in our favor that there’s gonna be that guy.

“So, our job is to help all of them and take part in that journey.”

The Cubs showed potential last season, falling a game short of the playoffs — exceeding external expectations. Now the standard will be higher knowing the team has returned the core nucleus and with more players on the doorstep.

“We have a good team where the goals are to win,” Drew Smyly said. “That’s the team you want to be on.”

The division setup means the Cubs should be set up to do that. Milwaukee’s two best starters from last season won’t pitch for them in 2024 — Corbin Burnes was traded to Baltimore and Brandon Woodruff will miss the season with a shoulder injury.

St. Louis rotation is a veteran-heavy group and has already suffered an injury with their original Opening Day starter Sonny Gray beginning the season on the IL.

Cincinnati has been hit by a suspension to top prospect Noelvi Marte and the injury bug — center fielder T.J. Friedl suffered a right wrist fracture, pitcher Brandon Williamson is hurt and second baseman Matt McLain will open on the injured list.  

Pittsburgh is young and interesting, but probably a year or so away from really competing.

Mix the division setup with some veterans, a young core and a new — and one of the best — manager and it’s a recipe that should lead the Cubs to October baseball for the first time since the shortened 2020 season.

Tony Andracki

In short: Yes.

Not only do I think the Cubs will make the playoffs in 2024, but I believe they will win the division and I would not be surprised at all if they make a deep run in October.

Last season, the Diamondbacks proved a common trope in Major League Baseball: Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting hot at the right time.

The Diamondbacks finished just a game better than the Cubs in the standings and turned the final NL Wild-Card spot into a trip to the World Series. The Dodgers and Braves look like absolute powerhouses but as it stands right now, the Cubs have what it takes on the roster to put together a hot streak at the right time.

With Bellinger back, the Cubs return the same lineup that finished 6th in MLB and 3rd in the National League in runs scored last year.

And I think there’s reason for optimism that the 2024 iteration of the Cubs lineup could be even better. 

A more consistent season from Seiya Suzuki, the addition of a promising, young left-handed bat in Busch and the veteran presence of Garrett Cooper and David Peralta — all aspects that could help the offense. Plus, the Cubs have a slew of youngsters — led by Crow-Armstrong — who could impact the lineup if injuries or ineffectiveness strike.

On the pitching side, the Cubs are really excited about Shota Imanaga and adding his cerebral style to the rotation. Jameson Taillon’s early-season injury is a tough blow but when he returns to health, it’s certainly reasonable to project a better season for him than his debut year in Chicago. 

And just as in the position player side, I really like the young wave of arms coming up through the system. Wicks could enjoy a true breakout season in the 2024 rotation while Hayden Wesneski and Ben Brown represent depth in the minors. I would not be shocked at all if Cade Horton ends up making a few starts in Chicago later this summer, as well.

Héctor Neris is a big addition to the bullpen and there are other intriguing arms that could factor into the relief group.

But the big addition in my mind is Counsell. Seen by many as the best manager in the game, Counsell can help take the Cubs to the next level. 

Based on run differential, the Cubs should have won 90 games last year, 7 more than the 83 they finished with in reality. Improved performance in clutch/high-leverage situations will help the Cubs secure more wins in close games this season but don’t underestimate Counsell’s impact in that area. He’s long been seen as the type of manager who can get the most out of the talent on his roster.

The main question will be injury. Nobody can predict when injuries strike or what players land on the shelf. Justin Steele collapsing on the mound from a comebacker in his final spring game was a stark reminder that one bad bounce could drastically alter any MLB team’s season.

But when it’s all said and done, I’m buying the moves the Cubs have made and the depth Jed Hoyer’s front office has compiled. 

Expect to see the Cubs playing in October this fall.

24 for ’24 series

What are the Cubs expecting from Kyle Hendricks in 2024 and beyond?
What role will Drew Smyly fill on the 2024 Cubs?
How will Jameson Taillon fare in Year 2 with Cubs?
How will Shota Imanaga handle the adjustment to MLB?
Who will DH for the Cubs?
Who is the Cubs’ fifth starter?
Will defense once again be the Cubs’ strength?
Can Seiya Suzuki pick up where he left off? 
What are the Cubs’ long-term plans at first base?
Have the Cubs done enough to address their left-handed hitting?
Will Justin Steele replicate his stellar 2023 season?
When will Pete Crow-Armstrong be up with the Cubs in Chicago?
Will Adbert Alzolay be Cubs’ closer again?

Who will hit leadoff?
How will Christopher Morel fare at third base?
How is the Cubs’ bullpen shaping up?
What will Year 2 look like for Dansby Swanson with Cubs?
What will the 2024 Cubs Opening Day roster look like?
How will the Cubs’ catching situation shake out?
Which Cubs prospects will we see in Chicago this season?
Who will be surprise contributors for Cubs this season?
What effect will new manager Craig Counsell have on this team?
Which Cubs players are primed for a breakout in 2024?
Will the 2024 Cubs make the playoffs?

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