At The First Turn…
Memorial Day is traditionally the first checkpoint of the baseball season. After leading the NL Central for most of the first two months, the St. Louis Cardinals are a game and a half behind Cincinnati. Looks like it’s going to be a two team race although Pittsburgh may surprise us. They’re four games off the lead. The Cubs? No factor for a year or two, maybe three.
Pitching is going to tell the tale in the division. Pitching always tells the tale over 162 games.
I’ll take my chances with the Cardinals rotation over the long haul—even without Chris Carpenter. We haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary from anyone in the Cardinal rotation with the exception of Lance Lynn. He was the only unknown quantity as the season started and he’s looking like he might be the real deal. The Cards rotation simply has the fewest question marks in the division—if not the entire National League. Of course that assumes no significant injuries and minimal missed time. The bullpen has scuffled along, but when you look at the ‘pen and compare it with everyone else, the Cards bullpen is pretty decent.
Hitting isn’t likely to be a problem, especially as guys like Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Lance Berkman get back into the lineup. The bench is decent too. The Cards are coping pretty well with having three solid bats on the disabled list.
Biggest thing for Cardinal fans to worry about? Losing two or more guys out of the current starting rotation for an extended period.
Cincinnati is going to score runs, especially in their undersized ballpark. By current standards, their pitching is solid, although I don’t think their rotation is as deep as what the Cardinals are putting out there. Arnoldis Chapman has taken to the closer role. He’s been lights out so far.
Biggest thing for Reds fans to worry about? Losing Chapman. Next biggest thing to worry about is Dusty Baker overusing pitchers as he did in Chicago several years ago.
What about the Cubs? It’s year one of a rebuilding process. What the Cubs have are a solid shortstop & second base combination. Jeff Samardzija is beginning to perform like a legit number one starter. Geovanny Soto is a long term answer behind the plate, but he’s on the shelf with a torn meniscus. Other than that, the Cubs need a lot of help.
Biggest thing for Cub fans to worry about? The scouting department and player personnel folks getting in right during the June draft.