So the more and more I read here on BCB that people here are worried about pretty much every position on the field except for the bleachers. And I can't imagine that every fan in the league is doing the same thing. There are always exceptions, like if you know your team is giving up before the season starts (Padres), are amidst controversy (Natinoals), or are just solid in a lot of positions (Phillies, Rays, Yankees, Red Sox). But even then, every team has holes. I figure the most pressing concern or goal right now is to get to the playoffs. I don't think it's fair to expect the team to do anything besides that because we haven't seen what the team can do as a whole and we saw what getting our hopes up can really do to us. Some of us, myself included, still haven't recovered fully. This season, I'm still rooting as hard as ever, but taking it game by game and hoping to just make the playoffs at this point.
Ok so this sounds like I'm talking to kindergardners, so I apologize.
The way you get into the playoffs is by winning your divvision or the wildcard.
Honestly, i think the wildcard will come out of the East in both the AL and NL. Both are incredibly talent filled (especially in the AL) and competitive. So I'm going to go out and say that winning the division is really the only way to get into the playoffs.
Ok so finally getting to the point. The idea here is to analyze pitching. I'm a firm believer that pitching wins games, not offense. I'm going to do a quick analysis of each pitching staff in the NL Central and then open it up to what you all think. While you do need a good offense (see the Padres of a few years ago, great pitching, no run support), a strong staff can get you pretty far. Good pitching means relying less on your defense to make incredible plays. Anyways, here's a quick breakdown (in no particular order):
Pirates: I think they have the second best rotation in the division. i really like Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, and Paul Maholm. Three young guys who have excellent stuff, especially Snell. Zach Duke is an adequate starter who needs to learn some consistancy but has a great record against the Cubs lifetime so that should keep him in the rotation. I don't know much about Ross Ohlendorf but they seem to like him in Pittsburgh. His stats are not impressive so far though: 1-4 with an ERA over 6
Reds: Volquez is a stud. Not entirely sure if Dusty can destroy him by over usinig him, but the Reds' 'pen isn't consistent, so that may happen. Seems to me like that happened to Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Very strange seasons from those two. I really like Homer Bailey's upside, but it seems like he's strugglinig to get there. The White Sox almost traded Jermaine Dye for him, someone who I think is one of the more underrated players in the league (as much as I don't like to admit it). Cuento and Owings both they can pitch in the MLB but haven't been consistant. Cuento is younger though and has a little more leeway. Owings has good upside and is a great hitting pitcher. He's certianly not a bad option for the #4-5, even if he is inconsistent. I'd say the Reds have the third best rotation in the division. if Harang and Arroyo have good years, they could be #2 and give hte Cubs a run, if based on pitching alone.
Cardinals: Wainright is a legit starter and should have another good year. He only had 20 starts though, I'm not exactly sure why. According to their official website, Carpenter is their #2. Really? Not entirely sure if that's accurate. When healthy, Carpenter is about as good as they come, great stuff. But his medical history is worse than Ben Sheets's. Relying on him is NOT a smart idea. From there it gets worse. Kyle Lohse is like Jason Marquis but IIRC he has an even more ridiculous contract. Todd Wellemeyer had a good year last year but was streaky. Piniero is decent, he's better off as a long relief guy. The other two on the depth chart don't have much as far as stats in starting roles. They've had luck with the reliever to starter role so we'll see
Brewers: I'm trying to come up with a funny "untuck 'em" line but can't think of one. Wait! Untuck 'em is just as bad as the pitching staff of the Brewers? Ok not as mean as it could be. I'll work on it. But seriously, the Brewers have a potent offense but if they give up 5-6 runs a game, they'll look like the Mavericks did a few years ago (if you're not a basketball fan, just don't worry about that. Gallardo is the ace...wow. He's shown flashes of good pitching but has been injured and to throw him into the ace role could mess with him. Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan fall into the Jason Marquis/Kyle Lohse catagory of overpaid veterans. I do like Parra though, he could be good for them. I'm interested to see how Looper, their biggest offseason acquisition, does away from Dave Duncan.
Astros: Ok Roy Oswalt. I used to be able to say need I say more but he's struggled the last year and a half. he's due to bounce back. The rest of the rotation seems to be banking on injured or older players (or both) having come back seasons. Mike Hampton was supposed to pick up the slack when the big three in Atlanta fell off but he's been injured his entire career. He could bust out....or not. Russ Ortiz, Brandon Backe, and Wandy Rodriguez seem to be the same pitcher with different ages: people who have had success at points in their career but have never busted out and been incredible. The Cubs had a career threatening day against Backe last year (there's no way I remember the date) but he gave up something like 10 runs. The other guy astros.com lists is Brian Moehler: another reliever to starter guy. He was decent last year. But he's a number four or five at best and is probably going to be relied on too much down there. Houston might struggle to beat out the Brewers for worst pitching staff in the division.
Again, these are just my opinions based on watching these guys play (albeit most of it is against the Cubs). I wrote this to open discussion. Feel free to critique but be friendly about it.
And here...we.....go! (I'm a huge fan of the Dark Knight)