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N.L. Central: When Will the Cards Pull Away?

Lance Lynn - Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

Lance Lynn – Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

There is a three-way race in the National League Central Division between the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. It would be nice if the race stayed tight through the end of the regular season. It would especially be a good thing if the Pirates could hang in there because their fans have suffered for long enough. But in reality, I think we all expect the Cardinals to pull away at any time.

The Cardinals are the most successful franchise in Major League Baseball history other than the New York Yankees. The Cardinals have been successful throughout their history and have had recent success. They just win.

St. Louis won the World Series just two years ago. It was their second world championship since 2006. Last season, they were one win away from another trip to the World Series when they lost in seven games to the San Francisco Giants.

The Reds last World Series title was in 1990. That capped off a highly successful 20-year stretch that saw the Reds win three world titles and five N.L. pennants. The Reds have had runs as far as the NLCS since then and have made a few playoff appearances in recent seasons, so we do not want to count them out.

Pittsburgh has not had a winning record since 1992. The last two years they started out well, then faded after the All-Star Break. We do not trust the Pirates.

The Milwaukee Brewers have had recent success. They won the division two years ago. But they have put themselves in a hole so deep they won’t be able to dig out.

The Chicago Cubs are…well…the Cubs. We can pencil them in for last place again.

The Cardinals will likely win the division, but they do have one weakness. Their starting rotation is not that great on the back end. They have three starters they’ve been able to count on in Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. After that it gets a little iffy. But, with three guys winning, that still gets you to .600 baseball. So as long as those three continue to pitch well, the Cards are going to be fine.

Wainwright is 10-3 with a 2.18 ERA. Miller is 8-4 with a microscopic 2.08 EA and Lynn is 9-1 with a 3.56 ERA. That’s a pretty good 1-2-3 punch. But if one of them falters, somebody will need to step up or the Cards end up with only two guys they can count on. The bullpen though, has been great all season. Edward Mujica is 20-20 in save chances.

Yadier Molina has not only been masterful behind the plate, but is hitting .355. He is a real M.V.P candidate. Carlos Beltran has 16 homers and 36 RBIs and Allen Craig has 52 RBIs. It is hard to imagine, if their three starting pitchers stay healthy and keep it up, that St. Louis will not win the N. L. Central.

Our predicted order of finish is:

1. St Louis

2. Pittsburgh

3. Cincinnati

4. Milwaukee

5. Chicago

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