Success in the Central will mean beating up on the Reds and Brewers
The NL Central this year figures to be one of the best divisions in baseball. The top three teams in the division, the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are all serious World Series contenders and any of these three teams can win 100 games this year. However, behind these teams, ironically enough, are two of the worst teams in baseball. Both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds lost over 90 games last year and neither team made big moves in the offseason to correct their woes. It seems as if both teams are content with building for the future and will use the 2016 season for player development. With the Brewers and the Reds struggling, the three NL Central contending teams will be looking forward to taking advantage of games against these two bottom feeders, as these wins will have a big impact in bolstering records and potentially deciding the NL Central playoff picture.
In 2015, the Cardinals were 13-6 against the Brewers and 12-8 against the Reds. Of their 13 wins against the Brewers, 8 wins were by 3 runs or more and, of the 12 wins against the Reds, 7 wins were by 3 runs or more. However, comparatively, the Cardinals were only 12-11 against the Cubs and 10-9 against the Pirates. In a long 162-game season, easy wins are important because they allow the contenders to build their confidence and to give their aging veterans a chance to rest for a night. In 2015, the Cardinals fully took advantage of games against the Brewers and the Red and were important, leading to their 100-win season.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 24, 2016
This season, the Cardinals will need similar success against these two bottom-feeding teams in order to be successful. Every series this year against the Cubs and the Pirates figure to be hard fought battles where the teams will give everything they have to win important divisional games and to gain on their rivals in the standings. The series against the Brewers and the Reds, however, will be the easier portion of their 182-game season. The Cardinals need to take advantage of every opportunity and to win as many games as they can against a far less superior team.
If the Cardinals can win 70 percent of their games against the Brewers and the Reds and finish with a winning record against the Cubs and the Pirates, they will be very successful.