NL Central Predictions

I hope all of the die-hard baseball fans out there are excited; we are less than two weeks away from Opening Day (3/28) and only a few days away from the Mariners and Athletics kicking off the regular season with a 2 game set in Japan. Buckle up. This week, I will be breaking down the NL Central, and of course, giving my predicted 2019 standings.

2018 NL Central Standings

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (96-67)
  2. Chicago Cubs (95-68)
  3. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-79)
  5. Cincinnati Reds (67-95)

The NL Central in 2018 came down to the last game of the season. Well, technically, it came down to a game 163, which the Brewers took from the Cubs, and eventually rode that momentum to being 1 win away from a World Series birth. The Cardinals threatened the top 2 teams up until the last few weeks of the season, when they completely fell apart. The Pirates surprised many people in 2018, and were even in the postseason race up until about mid-August, when they too fell apart. The Reds, after firing Bryan Price before game 20, had some bright spots, and played around .500 ball for a good portion of the season under interim manager Jim Riggleman. For the Reds, however, 2018 was more a season to develop and evaluate the many young players they featured. The bottom line last season in this division was the incredible September the Brewers had, and the Cubs not being able to put away the division in the final 2 weeks of the season.

2018/19 Offseason Summary

Milwaukee Brewers:

Notable Additions- C Yasmani Grandal, OF Ben Gamel, RP Alex Claudio, 2B Cory Spangenberg, SP Josh Tomlin

Notable Subtractions- OF Domingo Santana, OF Keon Broxton, SP Wade Miley, RP Dan Jennings, SP Gio Gonzalez

Chicago Cubs:

Notable Additions- RP Brad Brach, IF Daniel Descalso, RP Xavier Cedeno

Notable Subtractions- RP Jesse Chavez, RP Justin Wilson, 2B Daniel Murphy, SP Drew Smyly, IF Tommy La Stella

St. Louis Cardinals:

Notable Additions- 1B Paul Goldschmidt, RP Andrew Miller, C Matt Wieters

Notable Subtractions- SP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, RP Tyler Lyons

Pittsburgh Pirates:

Notable Additions- OF Lonnie Chisenhall, IF Jung Ho Kang, OF Melky Cabrera, P Jordan Lyles, RP Brandon Maurer, RP Tyler Lyons, SP Francisco Liriano

Notable Subtractions- IF Josh Harrison, SS Jordy Mercer, SP Ivan Nova, OF Jordan Luplow

Cincinnati Reds:

Notable Additions- OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, SP Alex Wood, SP Tanner Roark, SP Sonny Gray, SS Jose Iglesias, IF Derek Dietrich, RP Zach Duke

Notable Subtractions- SP Homer Bailey, CF Billy Hamilton

The general trend we saw in the NL Central this offseason was that a team was either very busy, or hardly making any moves. The Reds were very busy with an offseason that was highlighted by the acquisitions of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood from the Dodgers. Follow that up with acquiring Sonny Gray from the Yankees, Tanner Roark from the Nationals, and signing of Jose Iglesias, and the Reds seem to be a much better, and more entertaining team for 2019. Contention might be a bit of a stretch, although crazier things have happened. But at the very least, they will be much improved, and fun to watch. The Cardinals also made massive headlines concerning a trade with an NL West team; this time it was the acquisition of all-world 1B Paul Goldschmidt from the D-Backs. The Cardinals clearly lacked a consistently big power bat in the middle of their order all 2018, and they surely got one when they swung this trade. Going back the other way were two young players who saw some regression in 2018, Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly. For a win-now team like the Cards, giving up those two isn’t a huge deal, but do not count out Weaver and Kelly, as they could turn into big players in the desert. The other major move made by the Cardinals was the signing of lefty super reliever Andrew Miller. Yes, he is coming off an injury-riddled season, but if he’s healthy, watch out. These moves place the Cardinals firmly in contention for the division. The Pirates offseason was filled with under the radar signings, including brining back Jung Ho Kang and Fransisco Liriano. While they did lose their starting middle infield to free agency (Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer), they did make some sneaky moves that might give them a shot at a wild card at the very least. I expect them to hover around .500 for most of the season. The Brewers had a relatively quiet, yet efficient offseason. They got rid of some outfield depth and they sured up their catching spot (at least for a year). Losing Wade Miley might hurt, but they appear to be confident in their core of young pitchers, and Jimmy Nelson coming back from injury. The Brewers should, again, be near the top of the division all season, as they look to make another deep playoff run. The Cubs had an extremely quiet offseason. They did not lose much, other than rental Daniel Murphy, lefty Justin Wilson and fan-favorite Tommy La Stella, but they also did not add much, other than reliever Brad Brach and utility man Daniel Descalso. After a disappointing end to a very good 2018, I expected a little more, but a healthy Kris Bryant and hopeful progressions from young players who regressed a little are better than anything they could have went out and bought. Like last year, I expect them to be near the top of the Central, looking to make a deep postseason run. I believe this division will be one of the most competitive all year long.

Projected 2019 Standings:

  1. Chicago Cubs (94-68)
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (92-70)
  3. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75)
  4. Cincinnati Reds (82-80)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (79-83)

One thought on “NL Central Predictions

  1. Again Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Here is the accurate prediction from a veteran observer.

    Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates and Reds

    Take it to the bank


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