NL Central Preview 2022

Story posted April 6, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Molly White

Coming off of the first full season after the pandemic, the MLB and fans are locked in ready to take on the 2022 season. The National League was well-represented in the World Series last season as the Atlanta Braves from the NL East took on the Houston Astros in a six-game series.

The National League Central Division is preparing for the long road ahead as they are two days from the start of a six-month season.

At the conclusion of the 2021 regular season schedule, the Milwaukee Brewers won the division by only four wins over the Saint Louis Cardinals, finishing the season with a record of 89-73.

This sent them straight into the postseason where they faced the Braves, and evidently fell to them in four games.

As long as the Milwaukee Brewers keep up what they’ve been doing, they will have no trouble finding success this season. Their starting rotation has two Cy Young candidates, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, both with ERA’s under 2.60 in the 2021 season, along with a potential Rookie of the Year candidate Aaron Ashby.

The Brewers are bringing in two exceptionally talented players that will only add to their success behind the plate. Veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen will be coming over from the Phillies for his 13th season in the MLB, batting a .280 for his career. Hunter Renfroe will also be joining the team after a standout season with the Boston Red Sox, batting a .259 with 31 home runs in 2021.

As for the Cardinals, they advanced to the National League wildcard game, where they played the Dodgers and fell 3-1 in the one-game elimination. Although this was not an ideal end to the season for the Cardinals, they are coming back with a vengeance looking to take the top of the division after a season-long neck and neck race with the Brewers.

Saint Louis has high hopes for its bullpen’s success in 2022, despite losing their ace Jack Flaherty early to a shoulder injury. The Cardinals ended the 2021 season sixth in the National League with a rotation ERA of 4.01. The bullpen as a whole has strong ground ball tendencies, where their success is reinforced by their defense causing for quick one, two, three innings.

In addition to their rotation last season, the Cardinals are bringing in left-hander Steven Matz from the Toronto Blue Jays. He has a career ERA of 4.24 in 162 game appearances. He finished the 2021 season tied at second for most wins in the American League at 14, and is projected to be the only lefty in the Cardinals’ rotation.

As for their offense, they are hoping to make big improvements this year. They ended the 2021 season right behind the Cubs with an average of 4.34 runs scored per game, leaving them at 21st in the league. Their three leadoff hitters Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill were all batting between .262 and .294, and their two and three slots had over 30 home runs each last season.

Ending third in the NL Central, by only a six-game deficit, the Chicago Cubs have made some essential lineup changes coming into 2022. The Cubs’ biggest struggle in 2021 was their bullpen, where they added big names this offseason.

Former Gold Glove winner Marcus Stroman came over from the New York Mets on a three-year deal. This will be a huge momentum changer for them bringing a veteran to the mound, who has a 3.63 career ERA, and an even better 3.03 ERA in his last season with the Mets.

They are also adding more versatility to their bullpen bringing in left-hander Wade Miley from the Cincinnati Reds after ending the 2021 season with a 3.37 ERA.

Returning Rafael Ortega and Wilson Contreras, while bringing in Seiya Suzuki, Yan Gomes and Clint Frazier, the Cubs are looking forward to a strong season behind the plate.

The Cincinnati Reds are looking to recover from a tough 2021 season, and fill the gaps left by Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker. They will bring a few veterans into their rotation, which could be extremely beneficial or detrimental- only time will tell.

The Reds, solely focusing on improving their bullpen throughout this offseason, brought in Mike Minor from the Kansas City Royals. While on the older side of the pitchers in the league, he has had plenty of successful seasons playing for big name organizations. He has a career ERA of 4.11 in 276 total game appearances.

In addition to Minor, they will bring in Hunter Strickland, another league veteran coming in with a career 3.11 ERA, after being sent across three teams in 2021, he ended the season with a 1.73 ERA.

Finishing last in the division in the 2021 season was the Pittsburgh Pirates. They finished last across the entire Major League in average runs scored per game with 3.76. The organization considers themselves to be in a rebuilding period after the conclusion of their third straight losing season.

The pitching staff ended the year with a combined 5.08 ERA, and a collective batting average of .236.

Despite the team's tough season, their MVP Bryan Reynolds is looking to lead the team to more success in 2022. He had the highest batting average on the team with a .302, hit 24 home runs, drove in 90 runs and had only four defensive errors in 159 game appearances.

The Pirates do have some promising staples returning in the bullpen as well, with starter Dillon Peters and reliever David Bednar. Peters had a 3.71 ERA in six starts with the Pirates in 2021. Bednar had an ERA of 2.23 in his 2021 season appearing in 61 games.

The main goal for the Pirates this year is to utilize their younger players to get them crucial league experience so they will bring success to the organization in the upcoming years.

Molly White is a second-year majoring in kinesiology, to contact her, her email is