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NL Central Preview

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Certainly this is the most wide open division in baseball this year. Four out of the five teams are legit contenders to win this one.

There is only one out of it before it begins

The Rest: Chicago Cubs


Let's just get them out of the way first this time. With Houston out of the division this year the Cubs have assumed the worst team in the NL Central title. Last year they managed just 61 wins and if your counting that means 101 losses. That is going to seem like a playoff run compared to this years team. Their opening day starter is Jeff Samardzija so ya, their pitching staff is in rough shape and their best bat is still Alfonso Soriano whom hasn't been even decent since 2008. They need Theo Epstein to work some sort of magic to have any sort of bright future and to stay out of the hunt for worst NL record. At least it will give Theo another top pick to help rebuild but they are a full 40 men shy of being even decent.



The Winner: Cincinnati Reds

They won this thing last year by nine games over the Cardinals thanks to their 97 wins. But they choked away a 2-0 lead in the NLDS to the eventual World Series Champion Giants. It was even worse than it sounds since they won the opening two on the road and then managed to blow all three at home.


But they still bring back most of their team from last year. They have an above average pitching staff but rely heavily on Johnny Cueto. If he were to get hurt they would be in a lot of trouble. They really need to add another starter to be legit World Series contenders and too assure that they win this division for a second straight year.


Their offense could use some help as well but given the weak division they should be able to get by. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce should be able to score enough runs to own this division.


Their ace in the hole is Aroldis Chapman. Originally slated to be a 100+mph throwing starter, he has stepping into the closer role and really dominated. It was thought he would be moving back into the starting rotation this year but eventually they decided he should remain their starter. If they can get him the ball with the lead it will be lights out on this division for the rest of the teams.


The Contenders: Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St Louis Cardinals

I would really like to take the Pirates to finish 2nd in this division but I just do not see it happening. I think losing all those extra games against the Astros is going to hurt them the most. They have some pitchers that can get the job done but it won't be enough to climb the standings. As much as I love Wandy Rodriguez he is not a #2 starter and AJ Burnett is certainly no ace. The rest of their staff is made up of young guys and unreliable guys that have bounced around the league like the two I just mentioned.


Their offense is going to rely almost solely on the output of Andrew McCutchen. He had an MVP type first half of the season last year but could not keep up the efficiency with so little help surrounding him. They have not done much of anything to change that so look for another so-so year out of the Pirates.


Then there are the Brewers and Cardinals. On paper they should be fighting until the end of the year for that second spot. I am giving the Cardinals the edge due to their superior starting rotation. Pitching is slim in the NL so when you see a good staff you should ride it. As long as Wainwright stays healthy and lives up to that contract he just got they should edge Ryan Braun and the offense of Milwaukee.



Saturday, March 30, 2013



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