The Chicago Cubs are facing some tough competition in their own division this year, with one surprise team outpacing them for the NL Central division crown and with two other clubs sharing similar records with the defending World Series champs heading into the All-Star break.
The 2017 season is far from over, but can the Cubs fend off their rivals from the division when all is said and done? Let’s find out below.
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NL Central Mid-Year Team Final Record Predictions
*view all 2017 MLB season futures odds here
Record at All-Star break: 50-41
Winners of nine of 11 prior to the All-Star break, the Brewers are one of the more pleasant surprises in baseball this 2017. They’re averaging nearly five runs per game this season and it’s not franchise stalwart Ryan Braun doing all the damage, as the trio of Eric Thames, Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana are spearheading the new movement in Cheesehead country.
Milwaukee has a favorable schedule in the second half of the season. And if starters Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra and Wily Peralta have hasty recoveries from their respective injuries, this team may just hand onto the NL Central lead for the remainder of the season.
Prediction: The Brewers make the postseason for the first time since 2011 with a winning record in the high-80s.
Record at All-Star break: 43-45
Chicago’s title-winning hangover has gone longer than expected, and it appears that the team won’t snap out of their funk that easily.
The Cubs’ dominant pitching staff from last season has lost speed, literally, as virtually all of their veteran starters have seen dips in their pitching velocity. Poor fielding is another factor, as Kyle Schwarber has become a liability in the outfield in place of Dexter Fowler. Schwarber hasn’t been able to deliver on offense either, and the same could be said for the duo of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
With so many unlikely teams in the National League having coming-out parties this year, the cubs may need to retool their roster on the fly before the trade deadline if they’re to reclaim their status as a true playoff contender.
Prediction: Chicago finishes with a winning record, but fails to make the postseason.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record at All-Star break: 43-45
As one of the more consistent teams in the majors, the Cardinals have been far from daunting this year. They’re having quite a perlexing season, as their starters with a decent number of wins have bad ERAs and those with good pitching form not getting enough decisions to tip in their favor.
We’ve just mentioned Fowler earlier, and the centerfielder is actually St. Louis’ leading home-run hitter so far despite not being known as a power hitter. That just goes to show that the Cards’ offense needs some young blood in the batting order and refrain from leaning on aging veterans in Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina from bailing them out like in seasons past.
Prediction: The Cardinals finish with their first losing record in a decade and miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Record at All-Star break: 42-47
Similar to the Cards, the Pirates’ window of being pegged as true playoff contenders is closing fast. Andrew McCutchen is far from the NL MVP he once was, and yet he’s Pittsburgh’s best player on offense this year.
Would the eventual return of Starling Marte from his 80-game suspension be enough to save the Pirates’ ship from sinking any deeper? Probably so, but the likes of Gregor Polanco and Josh Harrison have to get it going as well.
Prediction: The Pirates place better than the Cardinals in the standings with a record hovering a either a little over or under the .500 mark.
Record at All-Star break: 39-49
The Reds squandered their strong start this season and have reverted back to their stumbling ways. While Joey Votto is having a resurgent campaign posting MVP-like numbers, it’s clear that the overall inexperience from the rest of Cincinnati’s batting order is getting the better of of the team.
Above all else, though, the Reds have one of the worst pitching corps in baseball. Their 5.05 team ERA is second-worst in the majors and they all rank near the bottom in quality starts (28th), and opponent batting average (23rd). Having said that, Cincy fans would have to wait until next year to see if their team can build a roster that can consistently compete with the rest of the division.
Prediction: The Reds finish last in the NL Central standings for the third-consecutive season.
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