Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: NL Central

Continuing the United Cardinals Bloggers March project, today I'll take a look at the NL Central or the only division that matters.  All of my fellow Cardinals bloggers will be making their predictions as well and you can follow them at the UCB website.

Now, without further ado, here are my projected standings for the NL Central:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs
First off, I'm a Cardinals fan so I have to pick the Cards to finish first.  However, its not just my heart saying that, I think the talent is definitely there to claim the Central crown, they just need to stay healthy.  A full year from Allen Craig should help bolster the offense and with Adam Wainwright one more year removed from Tommy John surgery, he should be capable of resuming his role of staff ace.  Predicted Record:  95-67

The Reds will be the closest competition for the Cards.  They traded for Shin-Soo Choo in the offseason to give them a legitimate center fielder and Todd Frazier should be able to replace the retired (?) Scott Rolen.  However, the key to their offense will be keeping Joey Votto healthy.  Their pitching should be strong again, with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos headlining the rotation and Aroldis Chapman throwing heat out of the pen.  Predicted Record:  93-69 (Wild Card)

Pittsburgh keeps tantalizing their fans with the hope of a .500 season and 2013 might finally be their year to get over the hump.  Starling Marte is a budding star and will join superstar Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.  Their current pitching staff is pretty pedestrian, but when you consider that veterans Francisco Liriano and Jeff Karstens are probably just vying their time until top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are ready, the pitching staff could end up being their strength by the end of the year.  Predicted Record:  87-75

The Brewers traded away their best pitcher, Zach Greinke, last year and lost Shawn Marcum to free agency.  Recent signing Kyle Lohse should help lessen those losses and Yovanni Gallardo remains, but there are questions beyond that.  Marco Estrada and Michael Fiers caught the league by surprise last year and it remains to be seen if they can repeat  that performance now that the league has the "book" on them.  The offense will continue to be good, with Ryan Braun leading the way, but it may not be enough to overcome the lack of quality pitching.  Predicted Record:  85-77

The Cubs continue to rebuild.  They added some much needed arms to the pitching staff in Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva and Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, to go along with Matt Garza and budding ace Jeff Samardzija.  However, their anemic offense will hold them back.  They have some building blocks in Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, but not much else.  Predicted Record: 67-95

Up next will be the NL West.

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