A Player from Each NL Central Team That Will Give the Cubs a Problem

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
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Alexis Diaz
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Alexis Díaz - RHP - Cincinatti Reds

Starting from the projected bottom of the division, the Cincinnati Reds have a very promising young reliever lurking in their bullpen. Alexis Díaz is the younger brother of New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz, but he made a massive splash in his rookie season. Díaz finished his rookie year with a 1.84 ERA, 10 saves, and 83 strikeouts in just 63 2/3 innings of work. Although he did not start the season as the closer, that is where he finished it. The 26-year-old will most likely begin the 2023 season in the closer role.

Díaz pitched in just six games against the Cubs in 2022, but he enjoyed success when his name was called upon. Against the Cubs, in 2022 he made 6 appearances and pitched 7 2/3 innings while striking out 13 and giving up just 3 hits. With an ERA of 2.45, a 2-0 record, and 2 saves, it is safe to say Díaz loved when Cub hitters stepped in the box to face him.

2023 will see Díaz be the full-time closer for the Reds, and this is not good news for the Cubs. Out of their 19 games last season, 9 were decided by 3 runs or less. Now, the Cubs did win a few of those games, but they do play a lot of close games versus the Reds. In the last two seasons, the Cubs have a record of 19-19 when facing the Reds. A good closer can really sway the outcome of some of those games and that is exactly what Alexis Díaz brings to the table. The Cubs will not fare well against the Reds if they have to see Díaz eight or nine times.