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2015 MLB Betting – National League Central Division Preview

Posted by Dale “Skip” Lalonde on 3/20/2015 10:02:18 PM

The Major League Baseball season is almost about to start, and with the transformations made by the Chicago Cubs, a lot more people are talking about the National League Central than any other division in baseball, with the possible exception of the American League Central, which looks like it could be a four-team race.

The National League Central’s big offseason story was the Cubs. There was no question about it. A team that has traded a lot in order to accumulate prospects and grow its talent within its farm system is hoping that that young talent, which got a lot of on-the-job training last season, can now grow and ripen. The Cubs are hoping that a mix of youthful players and some veteran starting pitchers, all under the watchful eye of a great manager, can lead to an end to the Cubs’ 69-year World Series drought. Jorge Soler in right field; Javier Baez at second base; Anthony Rizzo at first – this team is loaded with young talent, and everyone in Chicago is waiting to see if these kids can take the next step this season. What should help the Cubs is the addition of Dexter Fowler in center field. Fowler should be a great guy in the clubhouse, and he should be able to help the young guys maintain the right approach as the season goes along.

Yet, in terms of on-field strengths, the Cubs will not be better at any other point on their roster than in their starting five. They landed Jon Lester and plucked him from the Oakland Athletics to put him at the top of their rotation. Jake Arrieta was excellent next season, and he’s an elite, top-of-the-line number-two starter. Jason Hammel will be the third starter, giving the Cubs quality depth. It’s going to be up to Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood to be decent fourth and fifth starters. If they’re able to do well this season, the Cubs should do well also. Hector Rondon as the closer? That’s a question mark, and something to watch as the season moves along. We’ll see if Joe Maddon, a widely praised manager, can put all the pieces together at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are better than the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, two teams facing serious problems in terms of their starting rotations and power hitting up and down their batting orders. The Cubs will be challenged by Pittsburgh and St. Louis, two teams that made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. These teams get better pitching and defense than other N.L. Central teams have. The Pirates are going to need to find more offense this season, and that’s why Gregory Polanco has to be the one to step up in right field, swinging a mean stick which will give Pittsburgh one more big bopper in the lineup. If Pittsburgh can’t become a better offensive team, St. Louis – with Adam Wainwright, John Lackey, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez in the starting rotation – is likely to have too much pitching for the Bucs… and for everyone else in the division. Pick the Redbirds, a sensible thing to do.

MLB Betting Pick: St. Louis

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