Can the Cardinals go from worst to first for the NL Central title?

4 March 2024

A month longer and either the Chicago Cubs or the Cincinnati Reds would have made

the postseason. Both teams finished out of a playoff spot last year by 1 and 2 games

respectively but none of that really matters because it doesn’t matter if it’s 1 game or

100 that you miss by, you’re still not getting a ring. This season though, there’s a solid

chance that we’ll see multiple teams from the NL Central in this year’s postseason and

the race to secure the division starts now. It’ll be the tightest race in the National League

and will make for a fun summer.

St. Louis Cardinals (+125)

After finishing at the bottom of the NL Central and accruing their first 90-loss season

since 1990, St. Louis now has the best odds to win the division. How, you ask? Well it

starts with addressing their biggest weakness, their pitching, which they did during the

off-season. First off, they found their opening day starter in Sonny Gray who finished

second in AL Cy Young balloting last season. Gray finished last year with a 2.79 ERA

and 183 strikeouts in 184 innings. None of the Cardinals’ starters finished with an ERA

below 3.40 last season. In addition to Gray, St. Louis went out and grabbed Lance Lynn

and Kyle Gibson, who is coming off a career high 15-win season last year.

Chicago Cubs (+225)

After the Wrigley tenants fell just short of the playoffs last season, anything but a

postseason berth would be a disappointment. So, they decided to unload the Brinks

truck this offseason, snagging former Brewers manager Craig Counsell from Milwaukee.

Counsell is now the highest paid manager in MLB history with a contract paying him

over 40 million through 5 seasons. Counsell led the Brewers to five postseason

appearances in eight years and is expected to do the same for Chicago. The Cubbies

grabbed Japanese standout lefty Shota Imanaga and reliever Hector Neris who is

coming off a career best 1.71 ERA. What might push them over the edge though is

bring back an invested Cody Bellinger, who is the reigning NL Comeback Player of the


Cincinnati Reds (+350)

With the Joey Votto era now finished in Cincinnati, you may think dark days are coming

for the Reds. But, thanks to the exploits of young guns like Elly De La Cruz, Christian

Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain to name a few, there is hope in the big red

machine. They won’t be left to their own devices though. Management went out and

secured support for the youngsters with some veteran depth. That includes the addition

of Frankie Montas who signed on for the 2024 season.

Odds to Win the 2024 NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals +125

Chicago Cubs +225

Cincinnati Reds +350

Milwaukee Brewers +650

Pittsburgh Pirates +2000

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