Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo celebrates after scoring a run against the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
We continue our MLB 2017 preview going division by division. Today, we look at the National League central.
Heading towards the end of our division by division look as a part of our MLB 2017 preview here at Call to the Pen. Today, we are going to take a look at the National League Central. The division is separated into two different segments; going for it, and totally rebuilding.
That’s because Dexter Fowler now finds himself with the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. Other than that, it’s a team that looks very similar to last season. albeit without top prospect Alex Reyes who needs Tommy John surgery.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have shuffled around their outfield while making some additions to their bullpen.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds continued their rebuilding process. The Brewers added to their farm system by trading reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox for a package including Travis Shaw. They also added Eric Thames as a free agent as he comes back from Korea.
The Reds actually signed a couple free agents and traded Brandon Phillips to open up second base.
So how does the division shake out? Let’s take a look.
Jun 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) pitches to a Houston Astros batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
5. Cincinnati Reds– Gone are the days of Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto. Anthony Desclafani is the defacto ace. They added Scott Feldman to eat some innings, but the rotation is about young arms like Brandon Finnegan, Tim Adelman, Robert Stephenson and others. If the Reds are going to get back to relevancy, they need some young arms to start taking those next steps.
4. Milwaukee Brewers- Junior Guerra was a nice find last season. Zach Davies was the first among their wave of young pitching coming up. They still have guys like Jimmy Nelson and Willy Peralta as well.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates- Can Gerrit Cole rebound after a rough season last year? Ivan Nova looked like a new pitcher after coming to Pittsburgh. The rest of the rotation should be the young and talented arms of Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow. If they all reach their potential, look out.
Aug 17, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports. MLB.
4. Cincinnati Reds- The Reds have some nice power arms at the end of their bullpen. Raicel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani and Michael Lorenzen could develop into a nice group. If they get anything out of Drew Storen, the bullpen could be a strength.
Sep 10, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) hits a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Reds won 8-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. MLB.
5. Cincinnati Reds- Joey Votto is from another planet. The problem is the rest of the infield. Eugenio Suarez power numbers increased but his average decreased. Zack Cozart was healthy last season, although I don’t expect him to be with the Reds all year. Second will go to unproven players Jose Peraza and Dilson Hererra.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates- Ton of questions here. When will Jung Ho Kang come back after another DWI arrest? What will Josh Bell produce? Josh Harrison‘s offense has declined the last two seasons. Jordy Mercer continues to be below league average offensively and defensively.
3. Milwaukee Brewers- Travis Shaw comes over from the Red Sox to play third and Eric Thames comes over from Korea to play first. What will they show in Milwaukee? Can Jonathan Villar keep his offensive production going? What will Orlando Arcia produce in his first full season?
5. Cincinnati Reds- Adam Duvall broke out last year as a power bat (though the OBP could be better). Billy Hamilton had his third straight season of 50 plus steals with a career high in OPS. Scott Schebler should be the right fielder, but Jesse Winkler could be there during the season.
2. St. Louis Cardinals- Dexter Fowler comes to division rival St. Louis to man center and leadoff. Randal Grichuk should be better off in left. Stephen Piscotty will just get better in right after putting up an .800 OPS in his first full season.
Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta throws a pitch against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. MLB.
NL Central Rank
Here is where they stack up in the NL Central. Remember, lower the better.
The Reds and Brewers are going through their rebuilding process. The Brewers seem to be a little further ahead, plus have one major chip in Ryan Braun left to play. If the Pirates get rebound performances from their stars, they can easily make a playoff push. The Cardinals rotation has a bunch of question marks. The Cubs should again be the class of the division.
Agree or disagree with the ranks? Let us know below.