MLB Season Preview For NL Central, 2023

MLB Season Preview For NL Central, 2023
Tue 21st March 2023

We simply cannot wait for the new MLB season to start, and we are counting down the days until the very first pitch. If you are like us and love the MLB, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the NL Central and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs will open the 2023 season with renewed optimism after a busy offseason with a bevy of free-agent additions. The Cubs finished third in the NL Central and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Third baseman Patrick Wisdom led the team with 25 home runs, while left fielder Ian Happ tallied a team-high 72 RBIs. Shortstop Nico Hoerner will move to second base after pacing last year’s squad with a .281 batting average, and right fielder Seiya Suzuki will likely miss the start of the season with an oblique injury. 

The Cubs signed shortstop Dansby Swanson to a mammoth seven-year, $177 million contract and added free agents Cody Bellinger, Tucker Barnhart, Trey Mancini, Eric Hosmer, and Edwin Rios.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman led the team with 12 quality starts last season while posting a 6-7 record and a 3.50 ERA, while southpaw Justin Steele went 4-7 with a 3.18 ERA. Left-hander Drew Smyly was re-signed to a two-year, $19 million contract after compiling a 7-8 card and a 3.47 ERA, and Adrian Sampson posted a 4-5 record with a 3.11 ERA. The Cubs inked Jameson Taillon to a four-year, $68 million contract and added free-agent relievers, Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer.

Chicago has revamped its offensive lineup with five new starters and should see modest improvement this season. However, the Cubs added few impact players and will fail to qualify for the postseason for the third straight season.

Cincinnati Reds

The 2023 Cincinnati Reds will once again rank as one of the worst teams in the majors, with glaring weaknesses up and down the roster. The Reds finished tied for fourth place in the NL Central and have failed to make the playoffs in eight of the past nine seasons.

Right fielder Jake Fraley batted .259 with 12 home runs in 68 games, and Joey Votto and Jonathan India tallied 11 and 10 homers, respectively. Catcher Tyler Stephenson hit .319 in 50 games, while left fielder TJ Friedl homered eight times and swiped seven bases. The Reds signed first baseman Wil Myers to a one-year contract worth $7.5 million and traded for shortstop Kevin Newman.

A pair of first-round draft picks, right-hander Hunter Greene and southpaw Nick Lodolo, headline a woeful pitching staff. Greene will be the opening-day starter and posted a 5-13 record last season with a 4.41 ERA and 164 strikeouts over 125.2 innings. 

Lodolo went 4-7 with a 3.66 ERA and fanned 131 hitters in 103.1 frames. Graham Ashcraft compiled a 5-6 card with an unsightly 4.89 ERA. Right-handers Luke Weaver and Luis Cessa will form the back end of the starting rotation. Cincinnati did very little in the offseason to upgrade its roster and, outside of two promising starting pitchers, needs more talent to be competitive this season.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers opened the 2022 campaign in a big way and was atop the NL Central for three months before faltering in the second half. The Brewers finished in third place in the division and missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

First baseman Rowdy Tellez led the team with 35 home runs, and shortstop Willy Adames added 31 long balls and a team-high 98 RBIs. Third baseman Luis Urias collected 16 homers, while left fielder Christian Yelich tallied 14 dingers and paced the team with 19 stolen bases. 

Center fielder Garrett Mitchell batted .311 in 28 games, and top prospect Brice Turang will get an opportunity to start at second base. The Brewers will also have a trio of newcomers in catcher William Contreras and outfielders Jesse Winker and Brian Anderson.

Staff aces Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff headline one of the league’s deepest pitching rotations. Burness went 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA and 243 strikeouts, while Woodruff posted a 13-4 record with a 3.05 ERA and struck out 190 batters in 153.1 innings. 

Left-hander Eric Lauer compiled an 11-7 card with a 3.69 ERA and 157 strikeouts, and Freddy Peralta went 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 78 innings of work. Adrian Houser, Aaron Ashby, and free-agent addition Wade Miley provide the team with excellent pitching depth.

Milwaukee barely missed the postseason a year ago and should again be in contention for a playoff spot. However, the new schedule format will result in the Brewers losing 18 games against the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to take a step forward in 2023 after suffering 100 or more losses the past two seasons. The Pirates finished tied for fourth place in the division and have missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons.

Left fielder Bryan Reynolds led the team in batting (.262), hits (142), home runs (27), and RBIs (62) last season. Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes collected a team-high 24 doubles and 20 stolen bases, while promising young shortstop Oneil Cruz smacked 17 homers and swiped 10 bases. The Pirates added a quartet of veteran hitters in Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Ji-Man Choi, and Austin Hedges. 

Right-hander Mitch Keller was the staff workhorse a year ago and logged 159 innings while posting a 5-12 record with a 3.91 ERA. JT Brubaker compiled a 3-12 mark and a 4.69 ERA, while Roansy Contreras went 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA. The Pirates signed southpaw Rich Hill to a one-year, $8 million deal. 

The 42-year-old sported an 8-7 card last season with a 4.27 ERA. Veteran right-hander Vince Velasquez was also given a one-year contract after posting a 3-3 record and a 4.78 ERA with the Chicago White Sox in 2022.

The Pirates have supplemented their roster with several low-end veterans and will rely on the continued development of their young prospects to avoid a third consecutive 100-loss season. Pittsburgh should be a better team in 2023, but their ceiling remains embarrassingly low.

St. Louis Cardinals

The 2022 St. Louis Cardinals captured their second NL Central title in four seasons and will be the favorite to sit atop the division again in 2023. The Cardinals will seek their fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs but have been ousted in the first round the past three seasons.

Reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt hit .317 with 35 homers, 41 doubles, and 115 RBIs, while third baseman Nolan Arenado batted .293 with 30 dingers, a team-high 42 two-baggers, and banged home 103 runs. Second baseman Tommy Edman finished with 13 long balls, 31 doubles, and a team-best 32 stolen bases. 

Center fielder Tyler O’Neill and left fielder Juan Yepez added 14 and 12 home runs, respectively. The Cardinals inked free-agent catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million deal, and top prospect Jordan Walker will be in the starting lineup at some point this season.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas was the staff ace a year ago and posted a 12-13 record with a 3.29 ERA over 202.1 innings. 41-year-old Adam Wainwright went 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA and was re-signed to a one-year, $17.5 million deal. 

Southpaw Jordan Montgomery compiled a 6-3 card with a 3.11 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the New York Yankees. Left-hander Steven Matz went 5-3 with a 5.25 ERA, while Jack Flaherty (2-1, 4.25) was limited to 36 innings due to a right shoulder injury.

St. Louis is a model franchise that has not suffered back-to-back losing seasons in more than 25 years and, despite an underwhelming starting rotation, is poised to claim their third division crown in five seasons.

When the 2023 MLB season does eventually begin, make sure SportsTips is your go-to destination for MLB picks. We will provide MLB picks for each and every game of the season from our experts, so you can place your bets with more confidence!

Marvin is a self-confessed sports fanatic who is addicted to the NFL, MLB and CFB. He has a passion for Daily Fantasy Sports and absolutely loves gambling and making money on his favorite sports. He has been an avid Dallas Cowboys fan since the 1970s and has been writing about sports for more than three decades. Whether he is making prop bets or choosing which teams will cover spreads, he is thrilled to provide relevant information for all of our readers.