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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

NL Central Preview

NL Central Preview

Photo courtesy of spablab of

Last season, the National League Central was home to the top three teams in all of baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals captured the division crown, standing as the lone team to reach the 100-wins benchmark last year. Trailing the Cards were the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, with both clubs earning a spot in the wild card game.

In the postseason, it was the Cubs who handed both division rivals their early exits. The Cubs blanked the Pirates by a score of 4-0 in the wild card game, and edged the Cardinals in four games in the League Division Series. However, the New York Mets brought the Cubs’ quest for their first World Series crown in 107 years to a halt in the National League Championship Series. The Mets toppled the Cubs in five games to punch their ticket to the World Series.

Looking forward to 2016, all three teams return to the diamond looking for redemption. With a strong offseason from the Cubs, and the return of many key players for both the Cardinals and Pirates, the NL Central is once again a force to be reckoned with in the majors.


  1. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs head into this season looking to build off of last season’s success, their best since 2008. GM Theo Epstein opened a lot of eyes this off-season with the big money signings of all-stars Jason Heyward, John Lackey, and Ben Zobrist. The trio will without a doubt bolster an already stacked Cubs roster. Chicago ace Jake Arrieta will return to the mound, looking to repeat the dominance he found in 2015 that earned him his first career Cy Young Award. Veteran arms Jon Lester and John Lackey will join Arrieta to form a staff that will surely haunt National League batters all season. And Kris Bryant is looking to establish himself as the game’s best young player.


  1. St. Louis Cardinals

The 2016 Cards break camp looking to defend their NL Central crown. However, the club suffered a key loss this off-season as stars Heyward and Lackey departed to the rivaled Cubs. Aside from the loss of Heyward, the roster will for the most part remain the same. Ace Adam Wainwright will return to the mound following an Achilles injury that cost him most of the 2015 season. Joining Wainwright will be newcomer Mike Leake to bolster a rotation that looks to be one of the top in the league once again.


  1. Pittsburgh Pirates

Lead by former league MVP Andrew McCutchen, the Bucs put the league on watch in 2015. Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole formed a dynamic duo atop the rotation to silence the bats of opponents league wide. Cole ranked fifth in the league, tallying a 2.60 ERA. Manager Clint Hurdle will put out a nearly identical lineup to that of last year as the Pirates look to clinch their fourth consecutive playoff appearance.


  1. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers seem to be in a rebuilding stage once again, following a season in which they were only victorious in 64 contests. All-star Ryan Braun will be a force in the middle of the lineup returning for his 10th year as a Brewer. Aside from Braun however, the club overall does not feature a deep roster. With an inexperienced pitching staff and a lacking offense, it looks like it will be another long season in Wisconsin. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy might be traded sooner rather than later.


  1. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds made it clear they were looking for a full-blown makeover when they traded ace Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals at the deadline last year. Over the off-season, they made the message even clearer by shipping two-time all-star Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox and Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. The time for Cincinnati to win again may not be here now, but it could be coming. With the acquisition of prospects from the Cueto, Chapman, and Frazier deals, along with young talent such as speedster Billy Hamilton, the ill fortunes of the club could soon be turned.

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