NL Central Division Odds
St. Louis Cardinals
The NL Central is a very wide-open division this season. With the exception of maybe the Pirates, every team has the ability to finish in a variety of different spots in the NL Central. While the Cardinals seem like the most put-together team the Cubs, Reds, and Brewers all have opportunities to succeed. This will be a very fun division to watch this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last season the Cardinals made it all the way to the National Leauge championship but lost to the eventual World Series Champions Washington Nationals. Even though the Cardinals made a great playoff run they still scored the fewest runs of all 10 playoff teams. With the loss of Marcell Ozuna to the Braves the Cardinals clean up roll is in question. This move will only further hurt the Cardinals’ ability to score runs. They hoped to seal up these issues in spring training, but due to the Coronavirus there lineup is still unknown.
Even with the loss of Ozuna in the offseason the Cardinals added only two players in free agency. This could be due in part to the Cardinals’ success with building star players in the past. Despite the Cardinals struggle to score runs last season they played great defense allowing the second-fewest runs in the league. If the Cardinals hope to achieve the same success that they had last year they will have to rely on their farm rased talent to win games.
The 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs are all but gone after the firing of Joe Maddon. The Cubs look to move into there next era under the leadership of David Ross. The team’s core players have changed drastically due to the front office making some questionable decisions during free agency. However, if this team can stay healthy it is not crazy to think that they will have a shot at the NL Central.
Ross’s relationship with former players will hopefully help to guide this team into the future. If this team wants to be successful for years to come they will have to fix some of their defensive issues. Their infield looks to be one of the best in the division, and with the right direction, they can get back to October. The biggest question that remains for this team is the state of there bullpen. This season will be a pivotable one for a Chicago Cubs team that could go in several different directions.
After four years of being last in the NL Central the Reds moved up to fourth place last year. While this Reds team got better they still had a large margin to make the postseason. The team allowed only 10 runs more than they scored the entire season, but couldn’t convert those runs into meaningful wins. Yasiel Puig made a big impact for the Reds to start last season, but the Reds decided to trade Puig to Cleveland halfway through last season. This organization is one filled with questionable moves.
After a lack of power in the lineup last year the front office made some moves to help in the offseason. The signing of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos will hopefully help the Reds score more runs. One guy that looks to have a big season for the Reds is Trevor Bauer who was acquired in the Puig trade. Last season he was a somewhat inconsistent pitcher. If he can improve his pitching this team will be set up for success in 2020. While this team has potential I think that this team will be NL Central contenders in the years to come.
This Brewers team was one of the hottest teams early on last season, but struggled after a few key injuries. They were still able to find their way into the NL Wild Card spot, but lost to the eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals. In the offseason the Brewers starting lineup changed a lot with the loss of Yasmanu Grandal and Mike Moustakas. Even though they held on to NL MVP runner-up Christian Yelich there are still some questions regarding the Brewers line up.
It is always fun to watch small market teams make runs, but unfortunately it doesn’t look good for the future of the Brewers. Luckily for the Brewers, there is no clear front runner in the NL Central. If the Brewers want to make it back to the postseason they will need production from there center fielder Lorenzo Cain. While I want to see the Brewers back in the title hunt, I think that the party may be over in Milwaukee.
After finishing last in the NL Central last season the Pirates cleaned house firing president Frank Coonelly, gm Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle. Needless to say, the Pirates are a completely different team coming into this season. This Pirates team has missed the postseason each of the last four years after going to three straight.
One big piece that this team looks to figure out is their bullpen. There starting rotation is a major question mark that will need to be figured out if this team wants any kind of success this season. While this team will certainly be better than last year, it is hard to know what the future hold for the Pirates.