There is no true separation between any team that would be running off with the NL Central here in 2019.
After last season’s miracle run by the Milwaukee Brewers to catch the Chicago Cubs in the last month of the season, the Brewers appeared to be one of the favorites to win the division yet again with a stack lineup highlighted by the signing of one year contacts of Yasmani Grandal & Mike Moustakas. While the Brewers failed to make any moves addressing their starting rotation, they decided to ride the storm with their young arms in Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and Brandon Woodruff. Instead, none of those names fore-mentioned are currently in the starting rotation and the Brewers are using a makeshift / patchwork rotation to limp them along. This on top of the lack of production from guys like Travis Shaw & Lorenzo Cain have hurt the Brewers on offense, as rookies like Trent Grisham & Keston Hiura have been save face for the Brew Crew so far in the second half. Without the production and MVP season like numbers of Christian Yelich, the Brewers may be buried in the NL. It’s surprising to have a negative run-differential like they have (as they trail the Nationals this afternoon big time) – to still somehow be in it.
The story of the 2019 Chicago Cubs has been their bullpen issues. The Cubbies look very good at home – but are a different story away from the friendly confines. The Cubs waited until after June 1st to go after Craig Kimbrel, but he has shown mixed results after signing a contract to fill a huge need for them. While the Cubs have quite a few walk-off wins of their own, they’ve been walked off themselves quite a bit. Let’s not mention this to my good buddy and fellow blogger at Pro Sports Extra, Tanner Johnson.
With a stacked lineup like what the Cubs have, you’d expect a lot more.
A team that I have forgotten about, the St. Louis Cardinals, seem to have crept up on the top two teams that everyone had pegged to win the division. The Cards currently sit atop the NL Central. The strength of the Cardinals is their pitching, though statistics don’t really show that their numbers are all that impressive. As a team, their offensive numbers as rank towards the bottom half. The Redbirds do have a few good batters to keep an eye on in their lineup, like Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna and Dexter Fowler. As long as the pitching doesn’t implode and the starting pitching can hold up it’s own, it’s likely that the Cardinals will be the representatives in the division. The Cardinals really didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline, so it’s going to be difficult in an opening series should they face up against the Braves likely in the opening series, it’ll be tough sledding to get to the Fall Classic. Maybe they’ll follow the script of the San Francisco Giants teams of the past..
What do you think? Who is going to win the NL Central?