St. Louis Cardinals: Checking in on the other NL Central teams

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: A general view of fans sitting in socially distant seating areas during the spring training game between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 02, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: A general view of fans sitting in socially distant seating areas during the spring training game between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 02, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals don’t get to see any other NL Central team this spring. How are they doing against their respective opponents?

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of seeing the St. Louis Cardinals play solely the Marlins, Nationals, Astros, and Mets. Because of the changes to the 2021 spring schedule, that is all fans got to see.

Thankfully, spring is over and the regular season begins in just two days.

The Cardinals went 8-10 this spring and are already going through some adversity. Injuries have plagued the starting rotation and the team’s top hitters have yet to hit like top hitters. Spring stats rarely transfer to the regular season, but how is the rest of the NL Central doing?

Milwaukee Brewers: 14-11

The Brewers and former Cardinal Kolten Wong have had a successful spring. The Brewers will likely be coming into the 2021 season confident and with something to prove as underdogs in the NL Central.

Here is what the Brewers’ website, Reviewing the Brew, had to say about their spring so far:

"Camp has gone pretty well Our hitters are hitting again. You may be sad to learn Christian Yelich is looking like his old self, while Hiura, Garcia, and Narvaez look in prime bounceback form. Top prospect Garrett Mitchell has impressed everyone, could be on the fast track. Offense is going to be much better this year. Pitching staff is just as nasty, with Burnes and Woodruff improving, and Williams and Hader have added 3rd pitches. Only real struggles have been fringe roster guys such as Eric Lauer, who was already demoted"

When you compare that to how the Cardinals’ spring has gone, that is a little scary to see. The Brewers were tanked in 2021 by an underperforming offense and if that starts clicking, they are a legitimate threat in the division.

Chicago Cubs: 15-9

The Cubs are having some off-field drama with their negotiations with star Anthony Rizzo, but on the field things have gone well. The team’s big splash (that they took right from under the Cardinals’ nose), Joc Pederson, had a monster spring with 9 homers.

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Jake Marisnik has also been doing well, and if these two keep things up then the team won’t miss Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. much.

On the pitching side, Zach Davies had just a 1.08 ERA over 16.2 innings. The Cubs’ rotation is going to have some unfamiliar names in it to start the year, but they figure to still be up there with the Cardinals for the division lead.

Cincinnati Reds: 7-19

The Reds finished spring in last place in the Cactus league and really have spiraled. It may be a good opponent for the Cardinals to start the year against with Sonny Gray to miss Opening Day as well. Here is what Blog Red Machine had to say about the Reds’ spring:

"So far this spring, Amir Garrett has been lights out. Though he’s only pitched in three games, Garrett has faced nine batters and has nine strikeouts. Garrett looks to be the odds-on favorite to replace Raisel Iglesias as the Reds closer. Eugenio Suarez has moved from third base to shortstop after the Reds front office failed to land one of the top shortstops on the free agent market. Joey Votto has missed some time this spring after treating positive for COVID-19. Votto looks to be on track for Opening Day, but he may not be at 100%."

They took a more optimistic look at the Reds’ record and performances than I might have, but these are all good things to know. Last season, the Reds had Suarez at third with Freddy Galvis at short and Mike Moustakas at second. Galvis is no longer on the team, and the Reds’ defense was a big part of their lackluster performance in 2020.

In 2021, it’ll be fun to see how Suarez adjusts to shortstop with Moustakas moving back to third base.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 13-14

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that the Pirates had a better winning percentage this spring than they will have in the regular season.

Though they were just one game under .500, the Pirates should be historically bad and finish at the bottom of the NL Central, even with a young rookie like Ke’Bryan Hayes playing in his first season.

Rum Bunter had this to say:

"Spring Training has been interesting for the Pirates. Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Adam Frazier are all hitting well, including Newman hitting over .700, giving some hope for the offense this season. That said, the starting rotation is very much in flux. It was already going to be poor and that was before losing Steven Brault for 10-12 weeks to an injury. The Pirate offense may be better than people expect this season but the pitching, especially the starting rotation, will be very poor."

The Pirates traded almost every player they had in arbitration over the offseason and are just a shell of a team right now. Expect the perpetual rebuild to continue in 2021.

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Looking around the rest of the Central, the Cubs and Brewers should be scary. Despite their spring record, the Reds also should not be overlooked as contenders. This winter saw the Central ship out a lot of talent, but there is still going to be a stiff competition for the top of the division.