NL Central Second Half Preview% Chance to win division: Cubs 92%, Cardinals 6%, Pirates, 1%
Bovada took their odds down; they were tired of Cubs money. It is the Cubs year, and it is tough to make a case for any other side. However, the Cubs pitching staff does need to be monitored though. Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta were pitching well above their heads in the first half, and were due for regression in which we have seen in the past few starts.Kyle Hendricks should show some in the second half as well. Their bullpen could use an upgrade, especially a left handed arm. If the Cubs can acquire Andrew Miller, it could be a game changer. Still, the lineup is amazing on paper, and with Wilson Contreras adding a power pop behind Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, they are just too tough. It appears they are on a crash course with the San Francisco Giants in what should be a great series.
The Cardinals would need a lot of luck to bounce back into the division. That said, they should be right there in terms of the wild card. The question will come down to if they can get enough pitching out of the arms already on their team. They are going to be going a long stretch without Matt Carpenter, who was quietly carrying the offense, so it will come down to their rotation.
They have not gotten consistent pitching out of anyone other than Carlos Martinez. Adam Wainwright has had a strong stretch recently but they are going to need more from him. Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha have all had disappointing seasons thus far. If any are to bounce back and provide a spark they can see themselves in the playoffs, but it is a tougher sell than years past.
The Pirates will be a team to follow because of their young pitching. Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow have a chance to join Gerrit Cole and put the Pirates rotation right back with some of the best in the league. They are a strong hitting team, so this gives them a decent shot at the wild card.
As for Reds, yikes. They need to sell off anyone they can this summer. The Brewers are hoping to trade Ryan Braun, but only a few teams can handle his contract.