Chicago Cubs (28-18)
Showing no signs of slowing down from last year, the Cubs look like a real threat already to win the World Series. With hitters that could put up 10 runs with ease and starters to hold up to under 2 runs, this team is dangerous. The only way to beat this Cubs team is to capitalize on their mistakes and not make any of your own.
Key Players: The bullpen
Eyebrows are to be raised when looking at the Cubs bullpen. The bullpen with the most potential is for sure the Cubs, but 1st they have to get through each game to make names for themselves. Expect the bullpen to struggle in the next few months, after a few moves at the trade deadline to improve the bullpen, the Cubs should be hitting on all cylinders barring no injuries.
Injuries: Brandon Morrow (RP) and Pedro Strop (RP)
Two key factors to a bullpen in need of arms. These two men need to heal quickly and help this Cubs team out. Getting them back would for sure improve the bullpen and give manager Joe Maddon better options when going to the bullpen.
Milwaukee Brewers (28-22)
With the reigning MVP on your team, guaranteeing a playoff spot on an elite baseball team is a lock. Christian Yelich has elevated his performance and is making his teammates do the same. With him leading the way, this Brewers team isn’t going to slow down for anyone this year.
Key Player: Christian Yelich (OF)
Putting up video game numbers in April, Yelich isn’t going to stop there. Being a leader of the team on and off the field, Yelich has worked even harder to reach the ultimate goal of winning a World Series. If he can play like this all year and have his teammates do the same, expect the Brewers to cruise to the playoffs with ease.
Injuries: Corey Knebel (RP)
With your best reliever not named Josh Hader out for the year and possibly some of next year, sign Craig Kimbrel now!!! Adding another top bullpen arm would be a smart move for the Brewers moving forward. If they choose to wait, the trade deadline will be their friend this year. Arms like Shane Greene and Will Smith should be available to a team like the Brewers.
Pittsburgh Pirates (24-21)
Starting off opening day with not your normal starting lineup is signs of warning. Luckily for the Pirates, almost everyone is healthy now. Having outfielders Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco back in the lineup is huge for this team moving forward.
Key Player: Josh Bell (1B)
This man hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down this year. Just dominating almost every pitcher he sees, Bell just keeps getting better and better with every at-bat he takes. Having him hot at the start is what has the Pirates 3 games above .500.
Injuries: Corey Dickerson (OF)
A pivotal player on the IL that should be back by the middle of June is a good sign for the Pirates. Having Dickerson’s bat will be a key factor if this team wants to compete in the NL Central.
St. Louis Cardinals (24-23)
Adding Paul Goldschmidt to an already talented roster was a big move for the Cardinals and so far it’s paid off. The rotation hasn’t lived up to the expectations that were set at the beginning of the year. If they can start having quality starts, this NL Central can get competitive real quick.
Key Players: Starting Pitching
With a rotation that has shown success before, expect them to add an arm around the trade deadline. Needing one more arm to lock the rotation down is exactly what the Cardinals need. If they get one, the Cardinals are for sure the sleeper team in this division.
Injuries: No key injuries
Having no key injuries and being in 3rd place isn’t good. Fortunately for the Cardinals, it’s only May and a lot of baseball still has to be played.
Cincinnati Reds (22-26)
The unluckiest team of them all in the NL Central is for sure the Cincinnati Reds. A good team for sure, but no possibility of making the playoffs. If they were in any other division in baseball this team would have a shot.
Key Player: Luis Castillo (SP)
Having 10 starts under his belt, Castillo has been dominant throughout. With a 1.90 ERA and 76 K’s through 61.2 innings of work, he looks to continue his dominant start to the year. Hopefully, his other starters can pick up the slack as he is single-handedly carrying the Reds rotation.
Injuries: Scooter Gennett (2B) and Alex Wood (SP)
A key player from last year, Scooter Gennett is a player needed for this Reds team to not finish in last place. Looking to get back soon, starter Alex Wood is looking to be the starter the Reds need. If he can come out and perform well, the Reds still will finish last but make it a close finish.
Chicago Cubs (96-66)
Milwaukee Brewers (93-69)
St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)
Pittsburgh Pirates (82-80)
Cincinnati Reds (79-83)
The NL Central will be sending three teams to the playoffs this year. With the Cubs, Cardinals, and the Brewers all going to the playoffs, whoever wins the division will have an advantage going into the playoffs. The other two will have to duel it out in the Wildcard game.