Kind of like first base and third base, we all know what the answer here is going to be, but this time in favor of the Brewers. Milwaukee has a clear advantage when it comes to starting pitching in this matchup.
Cobrin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are ace-level pitchers, and unless Jack Flaherty bounces back in a big way, the Cardinals do not have someone who can match up with them. When things are going right for Miles Mikolas and Jordan Montgomery, they can keep up with them to an extent in any given matchup, but Burnes and Woodruff are the kinds of talent that St. Louis just does not have in their rotation.
Freddy Peralta is another really good starter in their rotation, giving them an incredible 1-2-3 punch. The Cardinals arguably have the better number four and five starters, but overall, the Brewers take the cake here in this matchup.
If the Cardinals end up targeting a front-line starter this season, the gap could close quite a bit, but for now, big advantage to the Brewers.
This is maybe the most interesting conversation out of all of the matchups and one I could go either way on. After trading away Josh Hader, the Brewers went from an elite bullpen to a mess for quite a while, but still have a ton of talent in the forms of Devin Williams, Jake Cousins, Peter Strzelecki, Matt Bush, and others.
If you are comparing 2022 production alone, I think the easy choice is the Cardinals. Ryan Helsley is a top 3 reliever in baseball, Giovanny Gallegos is an elite setup man, and the likes of Zack Thompson, Andrew Pallante, and Jordan Hicks give the Cardinals plenty of arms to work with. Guys like Genesis Cabrera, Chris Stratton, JoJo Romero, Gordon Graceffo, and Connor Thomas could add to that equation at some point as well.
If we know anything about the Brewers though, they know how to develop a good bullpen. I would not be surprised as all if they rebound in a big way in 2023, but for now, the recent record leans heavily in the way of St. Louis, and there are even more arms who could be leaned on if needed.
Advantage, the Cardinals.
Sure, the Brewers got better, but they got significantly worse during the second half last year, so there's a lot they needed to improve. The Cardinals did the opposite, getting drastically better in the second half of 2022 and improving upon that this off-season. The gap between the Brewers and Cardinals was wide by the end of 2022, and I don't believe the Brewers have done nearly enough to shrink that.
Unless there are significant changes between now and the season, the Cardinals are the clear favorites in the National League Central and will win it by a comfortable margin.