3 MLB teams bound to regress in 2021

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

March 10th, 2021

Sustained success is exceedingly difficult to achieve in sports, and baseball is no exception. Below are three teams that made the playoffs in 2020 that might struggle to repeat the feat in 2021.

Chicago Cubs (Over/Under 78.5 wins)

The Chicago Cubs went 34-26 and finished first in the NL Central after playing a region-heavy schedule due to COVID-19. But they were stunned by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the playoffs, getting swept in a best-of-three series.

The postseason loss seems to have had a ripple effect in the organization. Theo Epstein stepped down as team president, staff ace Yu Darvish was shipped out to the San Diego Padres, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana were allowed to walk away, and third baseman Kris Bryant was dangled in trade talks all winter. The overwhelming sentiment in Chicago is that the core of the 2016 championship team – Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez – will all become free agents in 2021.

Outside obstacles for the Cubs – whose only offseason upgrade was a Kyle Schwarber for Joc Pederson swap – include a St. Louis Cardinals team that should not be ravaged by COVID-19 like they were in 2020 and added Nolan Arenado, and having to face the cream of the crop in the NL again, from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Atlanta Braves.

Don’t be surprised if the Cubs engage in a mid-season sell-off if things begin poorly.

Cleveland Indians (Over/Under 81.5 wins)

The Cleveland Indians have had a winning season every year since Terry Francona took over in 2013, but that streak could come to a halt in 2021.

Several big names from the 2020 team that was ousted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the postseason were either traded or walked away, including Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Santana, Brad Hand, and Oliver Perez.

The Indians have some interesting pitching prospects coming up this season and promising infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez were brought in from the Lindor deal, but it’s unlikely that this club will be within shouting distance of the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in late September.

Tampa Bay Rays (Over/Under 85.5 wins)

The Tampa Bay Rays did not act like a team that was two wins away from a World Series crown this offseason, and their Over/Under number reflects that.

The Rays let Charlie Morton walk and inexplicably dealt Blake Snell to the Padres in a universally-panned trade. Yonny Chirinos is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, meaning staff ace Tyler Glasnow will have reclamation projects Michael Wacha and Chris Archer behind him in the rotation.

Their lineup is still an ordinary one at best, even if Wander Franco is called up early. It’s easy to see the Yankees, and even the Toronto Blue Jays, finishing ahead of the Rays in 2021.