2021 Chicago Cubs
2021 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
Managed by David Ross
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2021 Chicago Cubs had a bit of a roller coaster ride in the first half of the season. They got off to a poor start in April, going 11-15 and ending the month in 5th and last place in the NL Central, already five games back of first place. They then turned things around quickly, winning 6 of their first 7 games in May to get back over .500. They spent most of the month in second, but moved into first place on May 31st as they finished the month like it started, winning 8 of their last 9. They then spent most of June in first place, but could never build a lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, their biggest being 1 1/2 games. They hit a high point on June 24th, when four pitchers combined to pitch a no-hitter over the Los Angeles Dodgers: Kyle Davies took care of the first six innings, then Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel all tossed an inning each to complete the feat. Kimbrel was re-born, after struggling the previous two seasons, and was named to the All-Star team, alongside 3B Kris Bryant. By then third base was just Bryant's nominal position, as he was appearing all over the place, in both corner outfield spot and at first base, due to the emergence of unlikely rookie Patrick Wisdom, who had a great month of June and was named the National League Rookie of the Month.
Just when everything seemed to be going hunky dory, the Cubs started tumbling downhill, dropping ten straight game, the first nine on the road, starting immediately after the no-hitter. This reminded everyone of the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks, who had both gone on long road losing streaks earlier that season, also immediately after pitching a no-hitter on the road (John Means for the Orioles and Madison Bumgarner in a 7-inning game in the case of the D-Backs). That was enough for some observers to start thinking that the Curse of the Billy Goat, well and truly dead since the 2016 World Series, had now been replaced by that of the no-hitter. With the Brewers playing extremely well, they had dropped a stunning 8 1/2 games back from a tied position in less than two weeks! They lost an 11th straight game before defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-3, on July 7th, only to be punished by the same Phillies with an 8-0 beatdown the following day. By now, with free agency looming for three key members of the 2016 championship team - Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo and SS Javier Baez - a lot of the talk in Chicago was about whether the Cubs should try to extract some residual value from the trio through trades, in the knowledge that they were unlikely to re-sign them all.
The answer to whether or not there would be a fire sale seemed to be given two days after the All-Star Game, when the Cubs traded starting LF Joc Pederson, obtained in a trade during the off-season, to the Atlanta Braves in return for a minor leaguer, 1B Bryce Ball. Things then got rolling in earnest a week later. Relievers Chafin and Tepera were next to go, followed on July 29th by 1B Rizzo, who headed to the New York Yankees, and on July 30th, the trading deadline that year, they were joined by 3B Bryant, SS Baez, OF Jake Marisnick, P Trevor Williams and closer Kimbrel, while the Cubs were left with a shell of a team at the major league level for the final two months. The most recognizable name coming back in these deals was 2B Nick Madrigal, from the Chicago White Sox in the Kimbrel deal - but he was out for the remainder of the year with an injury. Interestingly, the Cubs made two trades in three days with the White Sox, after going a full 23 years without a trade to their crosstown rivals between 1998 (Jon Garland) and 2017 (José Quintana).
Awards and Honors
- Zach Crizer: "Why the Cubs and Nationals fire sales are signs of a new type of rebuild in MLB", Yahoo! Sports, August 2, 2021. 
- Megan Garcia: "Cubs combine to throw record-tying no-hitter", mlb.com, June 25, 2021. 
- Ryan Herrera: "'Everybody's mad': Cubs lose 10th straight: Series-opening defeat gives Chicago longest losing streak since 2012", mlb.com, July 6, 2021. 
- Jesse Rogers: "Chicago Cubs' Zach Davies, three relievers combine for MLB's 7th no-hitter", ESPN.com, June 25, 2021.