Matt Castillo (Mitch)
Mitch’s NL Central Preview
There is a only a couple of weeks left until the regular season is here for the MLB season, in fact, next week on the Saturday Sports Report we will be having our MLB season prediction show. But until then let’s preview the NL Central divison.
The Reds were dreadful last season as they finished dead last in the division with a 62-100 record. There is no doubt that the Reds are in a rebuild mode which means they will certainly be at the bottom of the division once again.
The reds do have two solid young pitchers with Hunter Greene, the numbers may not jump out at year from a year ago as he was 5-13 with a 4.44 Era but the stuff is certainly there. The other starter is Nick Lodolo who was 4-7 last year with a 3.66 era.
Lineup wise it’s not a scary lineup to navigate through. This is more than likely the final year of Joey Votto in a Reds uniform as his better day is behind him. They do have Jonathan India and a power threat in Will Myers, but it’s simply not a lethal lineup. Look for this Reds team to win only 65 games this year.
The Pirates finished last year tied with the Reds for last in the division with a 62-100 record. The Pirates have been in the process of rebuilding but do have several exciting prospects. Some of those prospects include Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes, and that can provide them with a pretty solid left side of the infield.
It will be interesting to see what happens with their all-star center fielder Bryan Reynolds, who told the team that he wishes to be traded so he is a guy that could be on the move at some point during the season.
The Pirates have mixed in a few veterans to go with the young talent like Carlos Santana and brought back Pirate legend Andrew McCutchen. Overall, this is a team that has a ton of prospects and several guys that haven’t made their way up yet, but they are trending in the right direction. Look for the Pirates to win around 66-70 games this year.
The Cubs finished last year in third in the Central with a 74-88 record. The Cubs spent a little bit of money in the offseason and acquired some talent.
The Cub’s biggest offseason acquisition was the former Brave standout Dansby Swanson, they also added Trey Mancini and Cody Bellinger. The lineup is certainly a big improvement from what they had last year and they added to their pitching rotation by signing Jameson Taillon, who played for the Yankees the last couple of years and pitched fairly well for them.
I look for the Cubs to be greatly improved this season but I am not sure if that improvement gets them into the playoffs I see the bus winning around 80-85 games this year.
The Brewers finished in second place in the division last year and before the deadline, they departed from some talent such as their Closer Josh Hader. These moves caused them to take a bit of a drop and lose out to the Cardinals for the division title.
The Brewers still have a strong 1,2 punch when it comes to their starting pitching rotation of having Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. And in the back end of their bullpen, they still have Devin Williams who is lights out.
I don’t think their lineup is deadly but it’s good enough with guys like Christian Yelich and I see the Brewers winning 84-86 games this year.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals won the division last year and won a total of 93 games, before losing in the playoffs to the Phillies. The second half of the season was fun to follow for the Cardinals as Albert Pujols made a push to reach 700 home runs and he did it!
This season the Cardinals will look to repeat as division champs, The middle of the lineup is deadly with the Cardinals with Paul Goldschdimts, who was last year’s NL MVP, Nolan Arenado, and Wilson Contreras. If the table setters can get on base these guys will help put up some runs.
Pitching wise the Cardinals are do not have the best starting rotation and that seems to be the weak point of the roster, but I think its good enough to still win this division. I see the Cardinals winning 92-95 wins.