NL Central Division Predictions
The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals are a sleeping giant; it’s my guess they wake up in the 2nd half. It’s safe to say they’ll be ready to play their division rivals right out of the gate. There’s no love lost between Cincinnati and St. Louis even though things cooled down last year with the Reds out of contention.
The controversy regarding Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa may have heated things back up again. The Reds’ Manager suggested LaRussa intentionally left Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips off the NL All-Star Team. Turns out the NL were just fine without them.
Milwaukee won the Central last season, but they’ll be sellers at the deadline. Zach Greinke‘s most likely going to go, not to St. Louis that’s for sure.
The Cardinals will be looking for an arm or two or three. One in the starting rotation, and possibly both a lefty and a righty to strengthen their bullpen. Better yet, an addition to their rotation could help two birds with one acquisition. Lance Lynn’s workload is becoming a concern, so he could move to a setup role if the Cards add a starting pitcher. Jamie Garcia is due back in August. Chris Carpenter and Kyle McClellan are done for the year; Garcia is hoping his fate isn’t the same.
Injuries have plagued the Cards in the first half. If all their “if-he-can-stay-healthy” type position players can stay healthy, the Cardinals could be in line for a 2nd straight World Series appearance. Right now, they’re in third place so let’s take it one step at a time Cardinal fans.
Eh-ehm! Oh yeah, that reminds me… the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place and Andrew McCutchen is tearing the cover off the ball. NL MVP? I think so! But sorry Pirate fans–although I believe the Bucs will break their streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons, I don’t think it will come with a division title or a playoff birth. Patience is a virtue; no fans know that better than you.
The Reds’ line-up will come alive, at least that’s what everyone’s waiting for in Cincinnati. The offense has been inconsistent thus far. Pitching has been this team’s biggest strength and there’s no reason to suspect that trend won’t continue in the 2nd half.
Cincy is a good team, a playoff caliber team. They very well could be, but they’ll have to earn a wild-card spot. St. Louis will win the NL Central for the first time since 2009. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.
It’s my guess the Astros will have the honor of being the last team to finish in 6th place, at least for the foreseeable future. They’ll move to the American League West next season. (Cubs breathe sigh of relief; last place will have to wait a year)
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