You may not have noticed with the huge Bill Hall news out of Houston this weekend, but the NL Central gained another pretty good player. The Brewers acquired Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals. Greinke helps round out possibly the best top trio of starting pitchers in the division along with Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum. However, the gap in talent level after these three is big enough for Prince Fielder to fit through. The Brewers have the beginnings of a fantastic rotation but they may not have enough for the NL Central, which is unusually deep in starting pitching this year. Starting at the top…
The Cincinnati Reds have more talented starters than they know what to do with highlighted by Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey (I still like him) and Bronson Arroyo. The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter in front of one of the 2010’s best rookies, Jaime Garcia, and a couple reliable veterans, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse. Unlike the veteran Cardinals and the upstart Reds, the Astros have a mix of both proven and green pitchers in their projected rotation. Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez is a great 1-2 righty/lefty combo. J.A. Happ and Bud Norris follow that up with a pretty decent (high potential ceiling) 1-2 righty/lefty combo. And Nelson Figueroa and/or Ryan Rowland-Smith should make for a serviceable 5th starter. The Pirates actually have a few brightspots in their rotation with newcomer Kevin Correia and James McDonald, who will make 2011 his first season as a full-time major league starter. McDonald has the highest upside of anyone Pittsburgh has put in their rotation since Oliver Perez (He used to be promising, remember?). The Cubs are…well…the Cubs. Dempster and Zambrano should be solid, Wells should be somewhat ok, and there’s a chance a couple question marks work out behind them. Here is how I rank the NL Central’s starting rotations:
1. St. Louis: Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Westbrook, Lohse
2. Cinncinnati: Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto, Wood, Leake
3. Milwaukee: Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson
4. Houston: Myers, Rodriguez, Happ, Norris, Figueroa?
5. Pittsburgh: Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Russ Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, James McDonald
6. Chicago: Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija?, Tom Diamond?
It’s still early in the off-season so this could all change. The Cubs could trade for Matt Garza and move up the list. Who knows? But right now, the NL Central looks like almost every pitching matchup could be worth watching. It’ll be a fun year to watch. Although as a Houston fan, it’s hard to use any positive adjectives to describe Zack Greinke’s arrival in the NL Central division.