Chicago Cubs: A Spring Training preview for the NL Central

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Paul Goldschmidt, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: St. Louis Cardinals

In 2019, the St. Louis Cardinals hovered around the .500 mark for much of the year before getting hot towards the end of the season and taking the National League Central with a 91-71 mark. One highlight of that run was a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in September, a series in which the road team took all four games by one run. The Cardinals then beat the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series before losing to the Nationals in the NLCS.

For a team that is considered a contender but that also had plenty of room for improvement, the Cardinals didn’t do much this offseason. They are losing outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Braves via free agency, while they also traded away Jose Martinez and got prized pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Other than that, they are going mostly with the status quo in 2020. They’re set at most positions, as the outfield looks like it will be Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, and Dexter Fowler. The Cardinals will have to try to get Tommy Edman some at-bats again this season after the 24-year-old put up an .850 OPS and a 3.8 WAR in just 92 games last year. He could get some time in the outfield, or he could take playing time away from the up-and-down veteran Matt Carpenter at third.

The rotation is headlined by two youngsters, Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson, who were both impressive in 2019. Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright also return to the rotation, while it appears that the team will give Carlos Martinez a chance to move from the closer’s role back into a starter’s spot.

The Cardinals are not an elite team, but they have a solid major leaguer at almost every position. With no elite NL Central team, it looks like they will be favored to repeat.