CODNP Day 130: Playing Pepper With the NL Central

If this post runs on schedule, that means we are very, very close to Opening Day.  Which means we should take a quick look at the rest of the division because, barring an outbreak, we’ll be seeing a lot of these folks.

Team Writer Site Twitter
Chicago Neil Finnell Chicago Cubs Online TheCCO 2020 Pepper
Cincinnati Wick Terrell Red Reporter wickterrell 2020 Pepper
Milwaukee Sarah Witherspoon Reviewing the Brew sarahspooon 2020 Pepper
Pittsburgh Patricia Beninato Bucs Dugout PTBeninato 2020 Pepper

C70: Does the shortened season work for or against your team?

Neil: The Cubs have players that know how to win. And a lot of talent that did not perform to internal expectations last season. The short season could really help this roster. If players like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez start strong at the plate and Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks are effective on the mound, it could be an exciting couple of months on the field.

The Cubs had so many questions before the shutdown happened and those problems still exist. The starting pitching and bullpen lacked quality and depth. The loss of Jose Quintana only magnified that issue. Then there is the whole Craig Kimbrel/end of the bullpen issues. With teams having to lean on its bullpen, David Ross may have a lot to figure out quickly in these magnified games.

From the dugout in a season that no one knows what to expect, I would be more confident with the experience of the previous manager than the one that will be making the in-game decisions. David Ross has all of the tools and playing experience to one day be a good big league skipper. Unfortunately, he will have no room for error or “rookie” mistakes this season. Ross’ decisions may have a bigger impact on a 60-game season than the 162 games he, and everyone else, is accustomed to.

Wick: The Universal DH certainly helps the Reds, as it should help them unlock what was otherwise an incredibly crowded outfield.

That said, I’m actually not sure the short season helps them in the pitching department despite them being pretty stacked rotation-wise. Building a rotation for a 162 game grind is an art in itself, and I believe the Reds had done that better than several of their peers, and that becomes less of a burden to overcome for others in just a 60-game slate. It’s as if the Reds had trained perfectly for a marathon and are now only being asked to run a 10K, which a lot of other clubs can certainly do.

Sarah: I honestly think the shortened season helps the Brewers in a way. We’ve proved several times that we can go the full 162 game season and make postseason appearances, but as far as having a streak of success, I think having the 60 game season will be really beneficial to the team. 

Patricia: The long layoff gave some players more time to get healthy, and a short season hopefully will help them stay healthy. This is particularly important for the pitching staff, particularly middle relievers, who were kind of dreadful last year when they weren’t hurt.

C70: What are you most looking forward to seeing?

Neil: Baseball. I know that is a simple answer. But that is what I’m looking forward to seeing. Baseball has always meant a lot to me. I didn’t realize how much until now. I cannot wait to hear Pat Hughes tell us that ‘Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air!”

Wick: BASEBALL!

Jokes aside, I’m looking forward to watching Mike Moustakas ply his trade in GABP. Offensively, his fly-ball tendencies should play quite well with that as his home park, and the experiment of him being the everyday 2B defensively will definitely have my eyes. I’m also very, very excited to watch Nick Senzel this year. After breaking into the bigs last year and taking on an entirely new position, I think he settles in this season and really takes off.

Sarah: I’m looking forward to seeing how our starting rotation plays out and how these newly acquired players are going to perform with the team. I’m really stoked to see how Brock Holt is going to do as a Brewer; He’s already a fan favorite, so I’m sure it’ll be fun to watch him! Plus, we aren’t wasting any of Christian Yelich‘s prime 😉 I’m predicting 50 homers for the MVP.

Patricia: To see the new manager/coaches in action. Players have spoken very highly of Derek Shelton and pitching coach Oscar Marin, particularly about the technology they’ve brought in. We all know being tech-resistant was a large part of Clint Hurdle‘s downfall, and these guys are anything but. Marin was working with some of the pitchers in Arizona over the winter, too.

C70: Do you believe the season will be fully completed? How about the playoffs?

Neil: I have serious doubts about the season starting much less each team playing a full 60-game schedule. There are just too many variables that cannot be controlled. Major League Baseball has not handled the testing properly. All of the shutdowns/delays with the “Summer Camps” are concerning. Players are opting out. And I expect more players will opt out as Opening Day approaches. I will be extremely surprised, and selfishly happy, if there is a World Series this year.

Wick: To be honest, I have very, very many doubts that it will. I think a general stubbornness still makes a completed season a possibility, but the inevitability of big name players (and large groups at once) testing positive really, really makes me skeptical it’ll go off 100% as planned, unfortunately.

Sarah: In all honesty, in the way things are going right now with the pandemic, I don’t see the season being completed and I see the playoffs not happening. We’re already so far into what should be a regular baseball season, if the season were to be cut shorter than what it already is, there is no point for playoffs to even occur and if they did, when would we do them? People are getting ready for basketball to return and football to start their 2020 season, there would be no time for playoffs.

Patricia: When the pandemic came to the U.S., Philadelphia was the big hotspot in Pennsylvania. In recent weeks, most likely due to the kids packing the bars on Carson Street, it’s shifted to Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh still has pretty low numbers in the scheme of things. However, I believe that once the season gets underway and everyone gets used to the different reality, the season will be played. I will say, though, that it was sad to get an email from Pirates president Travis Williams telling me that my Opening Day ticket will be refunded. 🙁

Series Navigation<< CODNP Day 129: Playing Pepper With the AL CentralCODNP Day 131: What Are You Taking From Summer Camp? >>

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NL Central Standings

TeamWLPct.GB
Cubs3426.567 -
Cardinals3028.5173.0
Reds3129.5173.0
Brewers2931.4835.0
Pirates1941.31715.0

Last updated: 09/28/2020

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