Last season, the NL Central Division crown went down to the wire as the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers ended up tied after 162 games. Milwaukee won the division in a winner-take-all match-up after the season was over. Although the Brewers and the Cubs reached the playoffs, neither team reached the World Series. That means that there is unfinished business in the NL Central. Let’s see who will end up on top.
1. Milwaukee Brewers. Fortunately for Milwaukee, all of the changes that they made last season were absolute hits. OF Christian Yelich was the NL MVP. OF Lorenzo Cain brought leadership and solidified the leadoff spot. This season, the Brewers added C Yasmani Grandal to help stabilize the starting rotation so that the bullpen will not be overused like last season. That alone should improve Milwaukee’s win total.
2. Chicago Cubs. Injuries to the pitching staff and to 3B Kris Bryant hurt the Cubs last season, but good health should allow for Chicago to see improvement. However, the Cubs did not address the leadoff spot, which means that the lineup could be stagnant once again even though they have some mashers in the lineup. Hitting solo homeruns all of the time like last season does not lead to a division title.
3. St. Louis Cardinals. Signing 1B Paul Goldschmidt is the biggest addition in the NL Central Division. His bat makes the lineup greater as the Cardinals were not able to generate enough runs last season. The bullpen should not have any issues either with Jordan Hicks and newly-acquired Andrew Miller. The issue with the Cardinals is with their starting pitching.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates seem to be in a holding pattern right now as they do have a solid starting rotation from 1-5, but they do not have a proven power hitter in their lineup. It looks like fans will be walking the plank again.
5. Cincinnati Reds. I applaud that the Reds have made many offseason moves, but they were so far back last season that any improvements will still keep Cincinnati in last place.
Pic is from Pixabay.com. The names of the players are listed at MLB.com.