2022 MLB standings predictions: Where will the Cubs finish?
National League Central: The Cubs face a tough task even in a weak division
1: Milwaukee Brewers (94-68)
This starting pitching staff is absolutely loaded. The rotation was the main factor in the Brewers bringing a division title back to Milwaukee in 2021. Starters Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Freddy Peralta will all be back. Kolten Wong will man second base with Willy Adames at short, making a nice middle infield.
They brought in outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who hit 31 homers last season, via trade with the Red Sox, in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. They also added veteran outfielder and former MVP Andrew McCutchen on a one-year deal, who can still produce decently. If Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain return to form, they will be really tough to beat.
2: St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
St. Louis made a heck of a run in September to the postseason last year, and much of the team will be returning. Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill will be the biggest pieces of that lineup, with Gold Glover Harrison Bader in the outfield. Veteran Corey Dickerson was one of their notable position player moves of the offseason, and he can DH. This is a very strong defensive team overall, especially with Arenado at third.
In terms of arms, they added Steven Matz to the rotation, but the biggest factor will be the return of ace Jack Flaherty. Though, his health is already a bit of a concern as he is experiencing shoulder issues. Among all of this is the return of Albert Pujols, who will be retiring after 2022 alongside Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Pujols will DH mostly and it will be interesting to see how many games he plays in his final season. It will be an emotional farewell tour for the longtime Cardinals heroes.
3: Chicago Cubs (73-89)
Let’s be real right off the bat, 2022 is a transition year for the Cubs. 73 wins seem optimistic? Maybe, but let’s go best case scenario.
Stroman is a really good addition to the rotation, as is Wade Miley. If Kyle Hendricks rebounds from last year’s struggles, the top three are solid. Not elite, but solid. The rest of the rotation will be a mix of Alec Mills, Drew Smyly, Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele to start. Adbert Alzolay’s injury is tough to swallow, but hopefully when he comes back and Caleb Kilian arrives, more starting options will emerge. Also, keep an eye on Jordan Wicks and D.J. Herz in the minors.
Suzuki was the club’s big offensive addition. This guy was an absolute star in Japan and he will slide into the outfield right away. It might take some time for him to adjust, but the talent is there. The rest of the regulars to start the year will include Willson Contreras, Frank Schwindel, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal and Ian Happ. The bench/platoon options include the likes of Yan Gomes, Jonathan Villar, Jason Heyward, Rafael Ortega, Clint Frazier, Andrelton Simmons, Patrick Wisdom, Michael Hermosillo, Greg Deichmann and Alfonso Rivas. Not exactly Murderer’s Row, but there’s some young potential mixed in there. It would be wise for the Cubs to give the younger guys as many at bats as possible to evaluate what they have moving forward.
One area of the Cubs that could be potentially strong is the bullpen. They have added a collection of arms including veteran closer David Robertson, Jesse Chavez, Mychal Givens, Chris Martin and Daniel Norris. Pair them with Rowan Wick, Manny Rodriguez, Ethan Roberts, Adrian Sampson and the swing starter/reliever pitchers previously mentioned and the bullpen could look solid. Losing Codi Heuer for the year was a tough break, though.
It feels like a matter of time before top prospect Brennen Davis makes his way to the Cubs. Expect it sometime this year if all goes as planned. Most other top position prospects are a ways away from the MLB level, but they will be worth following in the minors this year. Overall, this is not going to be a big year in terms of wins, but a HUGE year for the long-term future of the franchise.
4: Cincinatti Reds (66-96)
Fire sale in Cincinnati. To the frustration of the Cincy faithful, the Reds are tearing it down. Sonny Gray, Nick Castellanos (opted out), Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart, Jesse Winker and Wade Miley are all gone. It would not be surprising if Luis Castillo is eventually dealt too. Joey Votto had a really nice comeback year last year, and for now, will still be a Red. Have they gotten some intriguing prospects back? Yes, but it will be a while before they are good.
They added former Cubs outfielder Albert Almora and former Pirates infielder Colin Moran to fill some gaps for the time being and the debut of fireballing right-hander Hunter Greene will be a big story, too. It’s safe to say Bob Castellini is not a very popular name among Reds Nation, as there’s a deep drive into left field by Castellanos – it will be a home run.
5: Pittsburgh Pirates (61-101)
Another rebuilding year for the Buccos. The good news for them is that their farm continues to get stronger and there is reason for hope for the future in Pittsburgh. For the fans watching the MLB club, it will be another year of experience for Ke’Bryan Hayes who is an important piece for that franchise. Bryan Reynolds is coming off a nice year with 24 home runs and .912 OPS, though he will probably be trade bait at some point or another. Former Cub Jose Quintana signed a one-year deal with them, and he could be their Opening Day starter, if not J.T. Brubaker. Look to the future, Pirates fans.