It will be interesting to watch the National League Central in a couple weeks for MLB picks when they venture out of the division and start facing other teams to see how they matchup.
Right now, because of how the early season schedule was setup, most of the teams in this division have a winning units record and that has come at least in some part due to how dreadful Milwaukee has been, when the other four squads in the NL Central had a chance to face them.
Here is a current look at each club from a pitching point of view to determine how they might fair against the MLB odds with the arms they have.
St. Louis Cardinals, It’s What They Do
With all the hoopla about the Cubs this winter in spring, there was very little talk about the St. Louis Cardinals. It was not that the Cardinals were expected to be worse than last year in anyway, rather, the presumption was they would do what they always do, win games. St. Louis has the top ERA in the NL and one of their principles is not to beat themselves and once again they are not, tied for first with the fewest home runs surrendered and third-best in fewest walks in the league. Losing Adam Wainwright is not positive development for the Redbirds but as every MLB baseball handicapper knows, the Cardinals always have somebody in the wings that can excel.
Cubs and Pirates Should Make Positive Steps
What gets lost in all the talk about the Chicago Cubs youngsters is this team has upgraded its pitching staff to the point where they are 5th in the league in earned run average and all the way to second in on-base percentage allowed. Instead of trying to beat St. Louis, Chicago has figured out it is best to emulate them and they are second in fewest free passes conceded and fourth in long balls leaving the yard. Jake Arrietta has really settled in at Chicago and pitching more at ease. Travis Wood has begun well but chances are he will return to normal which means Jon Lester has to starting piling up some wins for the Cubs to stay in the division race.
Manager Clint Hurdle of Pittsburgh receives few accolades, but what sportsbooks and those making MLB picks know is he has been skilled in developing young pitchers and bullpens. Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke are two current examples of his fine work and the Pirates presently reside in second in the NL in ERA and are in the same position for OPS, behind whom else, St. Louis. On the presumption Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett heat up like the weather in the Steel City, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be stealing the sportsbooks money versus the MLB odds.
Do Not Count on Cincinnati as Money-Maker
The Cincinnati Reds are hanging around .500, but that has as much to with them having 5-2 record against Milwaukee as anything. Cincinnati is -10 in run differential and if you subtract the Brewer games, it falls all the way to -19. Other than Johnny Cueto, the rest of the starting staff is not going to instill fear into opponent even if the Reds have won three of Anthony DeSclafani‘s four starts. If the starters in any way fail, the bullpen is an igniter not a deterrent, with the worst ERA in the NL and this is Aroldis Chapman having not allowing a run in almost 11 innings. Watch for Cincy to sink soon.
Milwaukee, What a Mess
Hard to put into words how terrible the Milwaukee Brewers have started 2015. Possibly the biggest telltale sign is that fifth starter Jimmy Nelson has the lowest ERA among the starting pitchers at 3.63. The senior circuit’s worst starting staff has little help with a depleted farm system, which cannot provide any help. And what good even is average bullpen when you are down 4-0 or 5-1 after five innings?