Today I will predict how the teams in the National League Central will do. I did the American East last week, you can read it here. Pat did the NL Central earlier, which you can see here. Many people see the NL Central as the weakest division in all of baseball. But, that does not mean the race will not be good. I think this will be a tight race between 1-4. I am going to give records based on 162 games.
1. St Louis Cardinals 92-70
The Cardinals got Nolan Arenado in a trade with the Rookies a few week ago. That gives them a huge 3-4 combo with Paul Goldschmidt. Jack Flaherty will have a bounce back year and be like his 2019 self. in 2020 Flaherty had a 4.91 ERA, while in 2019 a 2.75 ERA, finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting. The Cardinals just find ways to win games, especially when it counts.
2. Cincinnati Reds 91-71
The Reds made the playoffs in 2020, but it was kinda of a disappointment. Many people thought they would be a lot better than what they showed in 2020. Trevor Bauer is now a Dodger, but Luis Castillo is going to have a Cy Young caliber season. Joey Votto and Eugenio Suárez are going to return to form in 2021. The Reds could win the division in 2021. Look out for them.
3. Chicago Cubs 87-75
If you know me, then you know I am a huge Cubs fan. I think the championship window is as close to being shut as it can be. 2016 is now 5 years ago. Any Cubs fan knows that the core will not make it back in 2022. If the Cubs want any chance of winning again it has to be in 2021. I believe Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Anthony Rizzo will all have good years again. It comes down to pitching for the Cubs and I do not think they have enough.
4. Milwaukee Brewers 85-77
Christian Yelich won MVP in 2018 and could have easily won it again in 2019 if he did get injured. Yelich stunk in 2020. I think if Yelich has a bounce back year the Brewers can be scary. Keston Hiura will have a huge 2021. He will be one of the best young hitters that not many people are talking about. I just do not feel the Brewers have enough talent to win the division, but they could get in the Wild Card again.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates 60-102
The biggest need the Pirates have is a new owner. He is unwilling to spend money to get better. Also, the culture is not good there. I think the Pirates are not anywhere close to competing. There is not much to talk about here. They will have another high draft pick and hopefully they can get better in the future.
I believe this could be one of the closest divisions in all of baseball. It might not be the best, but that does not mean a lot. I am hoping to see the Cubs and Reds live up to their expectations. Nolan Arenado will look so good in red with the Cardinals. Check out Legends Lingo!
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-Tom “Powder” Cadmus (@powder42308)