Chicago Cubs: Evaluating strengths of top-two divisional rivals

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs did nothing while St. Louis reloaded for 2019 run

The past few seasons the St. Louis Cardinals have been overall mediocre. Their last postseason appearance was 2015 and have been averaging mid-80s win seasons since. Bad? No, but not enough to make the postseason. Not a lot of big moves for them the past few seasons…until just a few months ago with the adding of star slugger Paul Goldschmidt.

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This move alone gives the Cardinals something they have not really had since Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday, an All-Star slugger in the middle of the order. A six-time All-Star, Goldschmidt is a career .297/.398/.532 hitter with 209 homers and 36.3 fWAR. Him surrounded by the likes of Marcell Ozuna, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina make that a force to be reckoned with.

As for the rotation, there is a lot of potential but also some questions. Miles Mikolas surprised everyone last year with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts after returning from Japan. One could ask if that is what he is or if it was just a career year. Their two young guys in Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes have electric stuff and are seen as the future of their rotation. Reyes has basically missed the last two seasons due to injury but watch out for him because the talent is there. Health is also the concern of Carlos Martinez, who is the important veteran in the rotation and he may not be ready on opening day.

Looking at the bullpen, they signed former Indians All-Star reliever Andrew Miller. Other than that it looks pretty much the same as it was last year, which was really nothing special. Jordan Hicks has 100 mph heat but had a 5.2 BB/9 last year, which is something he is working on and he is only 22. This may arguably be their weakest area even after adding Miller considering there is not much depth and Miller is 33 and coming off a down year which he posted a 4.24 ERA in 34 innings.