But they stood here Friday night in the nation's capital looking every bit the powerhouse they were past year after winning Game 1 of the NLDS vs. the Nationals. Then again, the Cubs do have a losing record against every team that made the playoffs in the National League this season, including a 3-4 mark versus Washington.
Will Max Scherzer truly be ready for Game 3 of the 2017 National League Division Series?
Heck, don't rule it out.
Actually, only one position player who will be on Washington's NLDS roster has a ring: outfielder Jayson Werth, who won a championship with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies and whose $126 million, seven-season Nationals contract is about to expire.
By now, everyone knows that prior to 2016 the Cubs hadn't won a World Series since 1908.
Strangely, the Cubs are nearly the forgotten team in these playoffs. Trying to line it up with their rotation.
But, for a change, the Cubs may be overlooked.
But unlike a year ago, when the Cubs' run to their first championship since 1908 captivated the country, they are just another playoff team this time around. "I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but it was a bit of a downer, and we hope that things subside and work themselves out". (That was) the last I remember. getting that home crowd feeling, the excitement to see everyone on their feet, clapping it up.
Even though Hendricks has had success as of late and will be the starter for game one, the Cubs main focus for acquiring Lester back in the 2014 off-season was the playoffs and the experience he brings. You'll need to log-in with your cable or satellite info to access this content.
Jon Lester who was a possible starting option in Game 1 will make the start.
In an era of zero-gravity baseball, Stephen Strasburg engaged in a refreshing pitchers' duel with Kyle Hendricks.
Turns out, it was Hendricks' night to play hero.
Against the Cubs, Strasburg quickly established that he would be anything but ordinary. And it was he who had the support - not much, but for him plenty. "That's why they are going deep in the game". Anthony Rizzo went 2 for 4 with a double, while Kris Bryant added an RBI of his own to round out the scoring for the Cubbies in the win.
Far more relevant for Washington are the Nationals' recent playoff struggles. Gonzalez has begun to regress to where people expected him to be at the outset of this season before he went on to have one of the best years of his career. They wound up with just two scratch singles - one by Bryce Harper, the other by Michael Taylor.
Hendricks was acquired by Chicago in the 2012 deadline trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Rangers - an under-the-radar move that helped fuel the Cubs' run to three straight playoff appearances.
Hendricks has been dominant after the all-star break, finishing with a 2.19 ERA in 78 innings pitched, according to ESPN.