Young Eyes: The Playoff Speculation: NL Central Edition
By Zach Swanson
As the dust almost all but clears, the question shifts from who goes where to how will the teams turn out in the regular season. I look at the possible playoff teams, surprises and busts in this six-part series.
I’m not even sure how to try and figure out who wins this division, but this is one of the most anticipated races this year.
The Cubs obviously are the team that has high hopes. But I would like to remind the readers about the last time a team has had this much hype: the 2012 Miami Marlins. Remember them? Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson??? Ya. Hi Blue Jays …
As much as I would love to watch the Cubs go from zero-to-hero, don’t go planning the parade yet. Yes, the additions of stud starter Jon Lester, as well as the young talent in Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Arismendy Alcantara and Starlin Castro could make for one of the “funnest” teams to watch this year. But you can’t count out anyone else. This is the only division with all five teams able to win.
The Brewers are such a fun team to watch as well, with Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun and Matt Garza leading the way. The problem that I see is the fact that they always happen to blow any chance of October late in the season, which was very imminent when they found themselves out of the race yet again in 2014, even after being in first place in the division for 135 days.
The Cardinals and Pirates both have something to prove, as either could have an injury-free year and pop out 100 wins.
The Buccos have a killer outfield, led by Starlin Marte and MVP-candidate (yes, I said it) Andrew McCutchen.
The Reds could also surprise, but they are in a tough spot, right in between playoff bound and rebuild time, bolstered by Johnny Cueto, the ‘Cuban Missile’ Aroldis Chapman and Canadian-kid Joey Votto.
Absolute: To win the division? Don’t think I could say this even with three games left … But I would say the Cardinals to make the playoffs.
Surprise: Even if the Reds came and won the division, it wouldn’t that much of a surprise. N/A
Bust: Brewers. Everyone else is too strong this year for them to stay with the Cubbies, Pirates and Cards the whole year.