Full Rotation: The St. Louis Cardinals and starters in the NL-Central
By Larry Levin
Do the St. Louis Cardinals have the best pitching rotation?
The St. Louis Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers all have capable rotations in different ways.
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While the St. Louis Cardinals start the season a tad short of the Cubs, they have more in reserve if things go awry. The Brewers would probably match up pretty well if Nelson weren’t in question, but his delayed schedule upsets both the starting five and the reservoir of replacements. The Pirates are okay if they don’t lose Cole, while the Reds just plain stink.
The bunching at the top means a few different things.
First, that one or more teams could push the others by free agent signings or trades before the start of the season. Grabbing an Arrieta or Cobb or trading for a Chris Archer could tilt the balance considerably for one of these teams. And in the case of the Pirates, dealing away Cole could push them far behind.
Second, that each team’s potential to out-compete their foes will turn on whether their starters can live up to their reputations, projections, and promise. That analysis may favor the Cubs up front. On the other hand, if injuries or unexpectedly poor performances arise, the St. Louis Cardinals could be best posed to withstand the challenges.
Beyond that, what the closeness of the rotations – especially for the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Brewers – may mean is that the other aspects of these good teams, beyond the rotations, could be the major difference between them.
All things being equal for the starters, it may well turn on the offenses and bullpens to dictate the outcome of the Central in 2018.