,The NL Central isn’t like the AL East. It’s easy to see the division as anything but a two-team race this season. The rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates are nowhere near contention. The Cincinnati Reds will likely join the Pirates in that club very soon. Chicago Cubs will continue to look to get over the hump after losing 91 games last season. That leaves the NL Central division champions, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost in the Wild Card Game. Both the Brewers and the Cardinals have caliber rosters to win the division and make a run for the World Series. Before they get to that point, here’s where the teams stand as Opening Day approaches.
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NL Central Division – Looking at the Current State of Play
The Milwaukee Brewers have one of the best pitching staff in baseball. They have two of the best young arms in Brandon Woodruff and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. They will need help from the rest of the lineup to produce more, including former MVP All-Star Christian Yelich. The Brewers appeared to address their lineup woes by acquiring Hunter Renfroe from the Boston Red Sox. On the free-agent market, they signed veterans Nelson Cruz and Andrew McCutchen.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last season, the St. Louis Cardinals won a franchise-record 17 games in a row. The win streak came at the right time as the Cardinals would seal a berth to the NL Wild Card Game. It was a shocker to see manager Mike Shildt fired after leading them on a spectacular stretch run. Oliver Marmol is the new skipper for St. Louis, as he will look to carry and guide last season’s momentum into 2022.
Coming off a dismal season, the Chicago Cubs will continue searching for roster reinforcements. The Cubs managed to sign Marcus Stroman, Andrelton Simmons, and Clint Frazier from free agency. Plus, they managed to sign Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. While it appears that Chicago doesn’t want to embark on a long rebuild, these moves might bring a clearer vision for the Cubs and their 2022 campaign.
It appears that the Cincinnati Reds will be rebuilding. After the lockout, management didn’t take long to unload players like Sonny Gray and Amir Garrett. The Reds weren’t even expected to chase any high-name player or expensive free agents. They lost outfield help in Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, with very slim options. As for the rest of the Roster, the Reds will rely heavily on veterans throughout the season. They will likely continue to have a fire sale to gain prospects to build around.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made many moves to prepare themselves for the 2022 season. This season will be a little different than others, one the Pirates hope to see development and growth of some of their top prospects into the majors. Some moves brought in established MLB talent, like acquiring two big pieces for their 2022 battery: left-hander Jose Quintana and catcher Roberto Perez. It doesn’t sound like much, but the Pirates are still climbing towards being a competitive team. This year’s roster structure isn’t built to win the NL Central or the World Series.