X-Factor: Chicago Cubs

There isn't too much to be excited about for the 2013 Chicago Cubs. That's kind of what you expect after a team that lost over 100 games in 2012. But let's pretend for a second that the Cubs are actually going to make some noise in 2013. Seriously, really use your imagination. If the Cubs are going to make a real run at a playoff spot, one player is going to have to come through in a big way.

That player is Jeff Samardzija and he's the x-factor for the 2013 Chicago Cubs.

What Samardzija does in 2013 is going to say a lot about the Cubs and where they go as a franchise beyond this season. There's no doubt he was fantastic last year, but that success needs to carry on over into this season.

Everyone laughed when Samardzija declared his goal to be a part of the rotation last season. After a career year as a reliever, most figured he'd be better suited for a role as a future closer type, and not as a guy going six or seven innings. We were all wrong.

Samardzija pitched to a 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts in about 174 innings. Even better, Shark managed to keep his walks down, which had been an issue for him over the course of his career, whether he was starting games or coming out of the bullpen.

He comes into the new season as the ace of the Chicago Cubs' staff. He has the stuff to be an actual ace. Whether or not he can actually become one remains to be seen. If he can, it gives the Cubs a dominant arm at the top of their rotation without a ton of mileage on it. That'd be a huge step for this franchise, if he can establish himself.

On the flip side, if Samardzija comes out and struggles, the Cubs would still lack that impact arm at the top of the rotation. Which would require them to either sell some talent to acquire said impact arms, or wait for others in the system to develop. And there aren't a whole lot of options.

This is a huge season for Jeff Samardzija. If he comes out and builds on his 2012 campaign, he not only earns a new contract, but becomes a tremendous asset for the Cubs, and a piece to build around. They lack that in their pitching staff right now. Such a season from Samardzija would indicate a giant step for this franchise as they attempt to get back into the postseason within the next couple of  years.Cubs on TOC

Cubs on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I'm a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
2013 X-Factor

About Randy Holt

Spending his days as an English teacher, Randy spends his afternoons, nights, and weekends as a writer on the Bloguin Network, as well as SB Nation. He is a staff writer for both Puck Drunk Love and The Outside corner, as well as Second City Hockey and Beyond the Box Score on SB Nation, showcasing his love for both hockey and baseball, as well as run-on sentences. A Chicago native (and Phoenix resident), he is an avid Game of Thrones viewer/reader and lover of red meat.