St. Louis Cardinals
Last season, the Cardinals pitching staff was decimated by injury as the team ended up losing starters Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson. As a result, they ended up adding veterans Jon Lester and J.A. Happ at the trade deadline.
While many struggled to understand the logic at the time, the Cardinals eventually went on an incredible 17-game win streak to put themselves right back into playoff contention. The end result was a Wild Card berth in which they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the win-or-go-home game.
Following the season, manager Mike Schildt was surprisingly fired. His departure presented the opportunity to bring in a fresh voice, but instead 35-year-old Oliver Marmol was promoted internally from bench coach to manager.
Marmol will now be tasked with leading a Cardinals that saw most of their team remain intact over the offseason. Pitcher Steven Matz and outfielder Corey Dickerson were the team’s two biggest acquisitions but they join an already solid squad that includes big names like Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and the seemingly never aging Yadier Molina.
If there is anything we know about the Cardinals, it is that they will find a way to stay in contention and still make a solid run at the playoffs.
Overall NL Central Outlook
As we prepare for the 2022 season to begin, the Brewers and Cardinals are currently the favorites to win the NL Central. That makes sense considering both teams are returning a lot of players from successful 2021 squads.
The Brewers mainly elected to add more power into their offense during the offseason. The Cardinals, meanwhile, didn’t really make many major moves and are more so hoping that the pitchers returning from injury can return to form and stay healthy this year.
The Cubs and Reds would be extreme dark horse candidates to compete for a division title and the Pirates are not expected to be in contention. Both the Cubs and Reds look drastically different from last year’s Opening Day and are hoping to return to contention quickly.
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The NL Central division is often regarded as one of the more competitive divisions and often results in a wild race to the finish line. Over the past three years, a different team has been crowned division winner, so we will have to see what 2022 has in store for us!