National League Central team capsules, listed in order of arrival last year:
2018: 96-67, first place, lost against Dodgers in NLCS.
Manager: Craig Counsell (fifth season).
He is here: C Yasmani Grandal, by Ben Gamel, 2B-3B Cory Spangenberg, RH Josh Tomlin, LHP Alex Claudio, RHP Deolis War, RHP Bobby Wahl.
He's out of here: LHP Gio Gonzalez, LHP Wade Miley, Of Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, 2B Jonathan Schoop, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Dan Jennings, Of Curtis Granderson, LHP Xavier Cedeno.
Projected training: CF Lorenzo Cain (.308, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 30 SB, .395 OBP), RF Christian Yelich (.326, 36, 110, 118 races, 22 SB, 1.000 OPS, MVP NL), LF Ryan Braun (.254, 20, 64, 11 SB), 3B Travis Shaw (.241, 32, 86, .825 OPS), 1B Jesus Aguilar (.274, 35, 108, .890 OPS), C Yasmani Grandal (. 241, 24, 68, .815 OPS with Dodgers), 2B Mike Moustakas (.251, 28, 95 with Royals and Brewers), SS Orlando Arcia (.236, 3, 30).
Rotation: RH Jhoulys Chacin (15-8, 3.50 ERA), RH Corbin Burnes (7-0, 2.61), RH Brandon Woodruff (3-0, 3.61), RH Freddy Peralta (6-4, 4.25), RH Zach Davies (2-7, 4.77).
Key Relievers: LH Josh Hader (6-1, 2.43, 12 saves, 143 K), RH Jeremy Jeffress (8-1, 1.29, 15 saves), RH Corey Knebel (4-3, 3.58, 16 parades), RH Chase Anderson (9-8, 3.93 on 30 starts), LH Alex Claudio (4-2, 4.48, 1 rescue with the Rangers), RH Matt Albers (3-3, 7.34), RH Junior Guerra (6-9, 4.09) , RH Taylor Williams (1-3, 4.25), RH Jake Petricka (3-1, 4.53 with Blue Jays), RH Jacob Barnes (0-1, 3.33, 2 saved).
Hot spots: initial rotation and injuries. After Chacin, who set career records with 15 wins, 35 starts and 156 strikeouts last year, the starting staff could be a work in progress for a while. A good Jimmy Nelson could provide a ride at some point. He lost last season after his right shoulder operation and will start the year on the injury list, but he was one of the best Milwaukee starters in 2017. Davies was also hindered by injuries this year last. Jeffress and Knebel had to deal with wounds in the arms during spring training, which could result in a serious tribute to the dominant bullpen in Milwaukee.
Perspectives: right there with the rest of the contenders in the baseball championship. The pitching staff is a concern, but Counsell has managed Milwaukee for a runoff playoff with fewer options in the rotation a year ago. Yelich is an offensive force, and Grandal adds another powerful bat to the formation. Moustakas is learning his second base, but the Brewers could always bring Shaw back in second place and bring Moustakas back in third place if it doesn't work. There's a lot to like about Milwaukee while looking for the first World Series franchise title.
2018: 95-68, second place, lost in Colorado in the wild card game.
Director: Joe Maddon (fifth season).
It is here: INF Daniel Descalso, RHP Brad Brach, RHP Tony Barnette, RHP George Kontos, RHP Junichi Tazawa.
He's out of here: 2B Daniel Murphy, INF Tommy La Stella, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, LHP Jaime Garcia.
Projected formation: 2B Ben Zobrist (.305, 9 HR, 58 RBI), 3B Kris Bryant (.272, 13, 52, .834 OPS), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.283, 25, 101, .846 OPS), SS Javier Baez (.290, 34, 111, 21 SBs, .881 OPS), LF Kyle Schwarber (.238, 26, 61, .823 OPS), C Willson Contreras (.249, 10, 54), RF Jason Heyward ( .270, 8, 57), CF Albert Almora Jr. (.286, 5, 41) or Ian Happ (.233, 15, 44).
Rotation: LH Jon Lester (18-6, 3.32 ERA), RH Yu Darvish (1-3, 4.95), LH Cole Hamels (9-12, 3.78, 188 Ks with Rangers and Cubs), RH Kyle Hendricks (14-11 , 3.44, 161 Ks), LH Jose Quintana (13-11, 4.03).
Key Relievers: RH Brandon Morrow (0-0, 1.47, 22 parades), RH Pedro Strop (6-1, 2.26, 13 parades), RH Steve Cishek (4-3, 2.18, 4 parades), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (3-2, 2.60), LH Mike Montgomery (5-6, 3.99), RH Brad Brach (2-4, 3.59, 12 save with Orioles and Braves), RH Brandon Kintzler (3-3, 4.60, 2 saves money with Citizens and puppies), LH Brian Duensing (3-0, 7.65, 1 rescue), RH Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 5.30).
Hot Spot: Pirogue. Maddon is starting the last year of his contract after the team did not want to offer him an extension during the winter. He is also working with an improved technical staff. The former unfaithful major of the league Mark Loretta takes the bench after Brandon Hyde became the manager of Baltimore. Anthony Iapoce replaced the fired Chili Davis while he was coaching, and Tommy Hottovy was promoted to launch the coach after Jim Hickey had resigned for personal reasons.
Perspectives: after a long cold season, the Cubs still have one of the deepest rounds of baseball and a lot of confidence that they will be able to recover from the disappointing result of last year. If the deep rotation and Bryant remain healthy, they should be in the right mix for their third NL Central title in four seasons and another long play-off series. If once again, baseball operations president Theo Epstein could reorganize the roster after staying with the same group that won the 2016 World Series for the past two years.
St. Louis Cardinals
2018: 88-74, third place.
Manager: Mike Shildt (first full season).
It is here: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, LHP Andrew Miller, Matt Wieters, CF Drew Robinson.
He's out of here: RHP Luke Weaver, RHP Bud Norris, 1B Matt Adams, RHP Tyson Ross, C Carson Kelly.
Lineed Projected: 3B Matt Carpenter (.257, 36 HRs, 81 RBI), RF Dexter Fowler (.180, 8, 31), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.290, 33, 83 with Diamondbacks), LF Marcell Ozuna (.280, 23, 88), HH Paul DeJong (.241, 19, 68), C Yadier Molina (.261, 20, 74), 2B Kolten Wong (.249, 9, 38), CF Harrison Bader (.264, 12, 37).
Rotation: RH Miles Mikolas (18-4, 2.83 ERA), RH Jack Flaherty (8-9, 3.34), RH Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.20), RH Adam Wainwright (2-4, 4.46), RH Dakota Hudson (4-1, 2.63).
Key Relievers: RH Jordan Hicks (3-4, 3.59, 6 saves), LH Andrew Miller (2-4, 4.24 with the Indians), RH John Brebbia (3-3, 3.20), RH Alex Reyes (0-0, 0.00 in 1 start, 4 innings after missing 2017 due to an injury), RH John Gant (7-6, 3.47 in 26 games, 19 starts).
Hot Spot: Outfield. Fowler has the chance to recover this season, but the Cardinals won't wait forever. Ozuna and Bader are solid in the other two positions, while Tyler O & # 39; Neill (.254, 9, 23 in 61 games) and Jose Martinez (.305, 17, 83) are ready to enter the starting positions. Fowler must start quickly – and continue – if he wants to keep his job.
Perspectives: the Cardinals hope that Goldschmidt and Miller, their two great offseason acquisitions, will be enough to put them back in the playoffs after an absence of three years. St. Louis made one last turn on a wild card before falling just before a year ago, and front office boss John Mozeliak was aggressive in pursuing those two pieces through a free and commercial agency. Carlos Martinez (8-6, 3.11) will start the season on the injured list due to shoulder weakness, leaving an empty potential in the rotation. But the cards have a lot of launch depth and should remain in the central NL mix. Reyes, a prospect who has a long way, will start the bullpen season.
2018: 82-79, fourth place.
Manager: Clint Hurdle (ninth season).
It is here: OF Lonnie Chisenhall, SS Erik Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Lyles.
He's out of here: SS Jordy Mercer, 2B Josh Harrison, RHP Ivan Nova.
Scheduled training: 2B Adam Frazier (277, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 23 2B), CF Starling Mars (277, 20, 72, 33 SB), LF Corey Dickerson (.300, 13, 55), 1B Josh Bell (. 261, 12, 62), 3B Jung Ho Kang (.333, 0, 0), C Francisco Cervelli (.259, 12, 57), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.321, 1, 9 with the Indians) or Gregory Polanco ( .254, 23, 81), SS Erik Gonzalez (.265, 1, 16 with the Indians).
Rotation: RH Jameson Taillon (14-10, 3.20 ERA, 179 Ks), RH Chris Archer (6-8, 4.29, 162 Ks with rays and pirates), RH Trevor Williams (14-10, 3.11, 126 K), RH Joe Musgrove (6-9, 4.06), RH Jordan Lyles (3-4, 4.11 with Padres and Brewers) or RH Nick Kingham (5-7, 5.21).
Key Relievers: LH Felipe Vazquez (4-2, 2.70, 37/42 save), RH Keone Kela (3-3, 3.44, 24/26 save with the Rangers; 0-1, 2.93 with Pirates), RH Kyle Crick ( 3 -2, 2.39, 2 savings), RH Richard Rodriguez (4-3, 2.47).
Hot spots: Corner Infield. Pittsburgh managed the fourth winning season of the franchise since 1992, despite Bell's significant energy problems at first base and Colin Moran (11 HR, 58 RBI) at third. Bell hopes that a busy home run that includes a review of his approach will help him return to his 2017 form when he scores 26 home runs. Moran lost his initial job in Kang, which hit 36 home runs in 2015 and 2016 before his arrest on DUI charges in his native South Korea at the end of 2016 threatened to derail his career. Any chance of breaking through a hyper-competitive NL Central will depend heavily on Pittsburgh's ability to generate more offense.
Outlook: constant as you go. Typically, the pirates have refused to invest heavily in the open market and instead will hit their chances of returning to the postseason on an initial spin that was a serious surprise in 2018 while hoping that new coach Rick Eckstein could help feed more production in a lineup that ended tenth in the NL in run and 13 in homers. If the starting staff can start from last season, Pittsburgh should be on the edge of contention, but whether to make a jump will almost entirely depend on a greater ability to put crooked numbers on the board.
2018: 67-95, fifth place.
Responsible: David Bell (first season).
It is here: OF Yasiel Puig, by Matt Kemp, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Tanner Roark, C Kyle Farmer, LHP Zach Duke, SS Jose Iglesias, INF Derek Dietrich.
He's out here: the interim manager Jim Riggleman, RHP Homer Bailey, CF Billy Hamilton, RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Austin Brice, 2B Brandon Dixon.
Projected formation: LF Jesse Winker (0.299, 7, 43, .405 base percentage), SS Jose Peraza (288, 14, 58, 23 steals), 1B Joey Votto (284, 12, 67, 108 steps), RF Yasiel Puig (.267, 23, 63 with Dodgers), 2B Scooter Gennett (.310, 23, 92), 3B Eugenio Suarez (.283, 34, 104), CF Scott Schebler (.255, 17, 49)), C Tucker Barnhart (.248, 10, 46).
Rotation: RH Luis Castillo (10-12, 4.30 ERA), RH Sonny Gray (11-9, 4.90 with the Yankees), RH Anthony DeSclafani (7-8, 4.93), RH Tanner Roark (9-15, 4.34 with citizens), LH Alex Wood (9-7, 3.68 with Dodgers).
Key Relievers: RH Raisel Iglesias (2-5, 2.38, 30/34 saves), RH Jared Hughes (4-3, 1.94, 7 saves), RH David Hernandez (5-2, 2.53), RH Michael Lorenzen (4- 2, 3.11, 1 savings), LH Zach Duke (5-5, 4.15 with Twins and Mariners), LH Amir Garrett (1-2, 4.29).
Hot spots: central field and final beat. The Reds gave up Hamilton after another difficult season to reach the base, leaving a hole in the most important point of the outside field. Precious Perspective Nick Senzel is learning to play in the center and will probably have a chance at some point. Schebler is the most experienced in the center, although Puig could also play there. Bell experimented with Lorenzen playing in the center field – his position in college – when he's not pitching. Winker or Peraza could beat the leadoff, depending on the starter. Juggling the outfield will be one of Bell's biggest challenges in his first season as a coach.
Perspectives: after four consecutive seasons of at least 94 defeats and a drop in attendance, the Reds became interesting with the trade offseason that brought Puig, Kemp and Wood from the Dodgers, Gray from the Yankees and Roark from the Nationals. Everyone except Gray are free agents after this season, along with Gennett – their best hitter in the last two seasons – so the front office will make important decisions in July, depending on how things are going. The rotation has been the biggest problem of the last few years, with the young pitchers who didn't show up. The offseason additions should allow the Reds to be more competitive in the fast-paced NL Central with the ability to get out of the last place.
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