2023 NL Central Division Betting Report: Will the Cardinals Have Any Competition?

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Juan Yepez of the St. Louis Cardinals runs the bases against the Philadelphia Phillies on October 07, 2022. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Unless you are a fan of the NL Central, there’s not much to get excited about this season outside of St. Louis and possibly Milwaukee.

All the MLB betting futures odds suggest a great deal of mediocrity. Nonetheless, it’s baseball and like the weather in this division, hope is eternal of better days ahead starting in late March.

Make sure to check out the best US betting sites available in order to make your bets. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cardinals The Class of Division, Brewers Not Far Behind
  • Cubs, Pirates, and Reds Only Chasing .500
  • The NL Central is the Worst Overall Division in MLB

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Win NL Central: (-130) 1st
  • Win NL: (+1200) 6th
  • Win World Series: (+2200) 12th
  • Season Win Total: Over/Under 88.5 Wins

Prior to the season, St. Louis is not an easy club to get a read on. They won their first division crown in four years in 2022. Paul Goldschmidt won the MVP in the National League and Nolan Arenado was 3rd.

With Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina having ridden off into the sunset and the hitting coach (fired), pitching coach, and bench coaches taking other jobs, the Cardinals dugout will have a completely different feel.

St. Louis fans are spoiled with one losing season this century (2007). Chances are that Goldschmidt won’t produce the same kind of numbers at 35.

A Closer Look

The outfield has players with power, who have not shown to be very good in on-base percentage. Though former Cub Willson Contreras is a great fit at catcher., currently, it is hard to see the Redbirds finishing 5th in baseball in runs scored again.

The Cardinals starting staff has possibilities. If Jack Flaherty does not have a shoulder flareup, he combined with Jordan Montgomery, ageless Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas, this could be a good group. Between that contingent and what appears to be a good bullpen, St. Louis could limit runs scored.

Playing in the NL Central should help the Cards win 90-93 games making them an OVER bet for MLB picks, beyond that, another quick postseason exit is likely.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Win NL Central: (+175) 2nd
  • Win NL: (+2000) 8th
  • Season Win Total: Over/Under 85.5 Wins

Brewers Keys – Great Starting Pitching with Better Bullpen and More Runs Tallied

The Brewers are at an interesting place. Talent-wise they are behind St. Louis in the Central Division, yet definitely ahead of the Cubs, Pirates, and Reds. Losing those extra 18 games versus the clubs they are than with this year’s schedule won’t help their win total, at least seemingly.

Milwaukee lost their edge last season with the shocking trade of Josh Hader. The bullpen blew up with the change of roles, which had a ripple effect on the entire pitching staff. That should be solved this year with Devin Williams as the clear closer.

What To Look For From The Brewers

The starting pitching is still strong behind Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, and 4th and 5th starters, Eric Lauer and Wade Miley; give the Brewers a 50-50 chance at success.

Offensively, still a bit of a mess. Christian Yelich is a shell of his former self with the MVP quality of seasons of 2018-19 in the rearview mirror. Big man Rowdy Tellez hits for power and became more selective to earn more free passes, but hits for a low average.

There are talented young players coming through the organization and manager Craig Counsell has to work them in and other vets won’t be thrilled. Good, not a great club. The season win total looks just right, pass.

Chicago Cubs

  • Win NL Central: (+450) 3rd
  • Win NL: (+3300) 9th
  • Season Win Total: Over/Under 77.5 Wins

Cubs Getting More Love Than They Deserve?

At this point, the only remnants of the 2016 World Series squad in terms of players are Kyle Hendricks and now manager David Ross.

Chicago decided to rebuild at the mid-point of 2021, moving many of the key players that never got better for the Cubs in the following years. After two very mediocre seasons, Chicago is expected to show improvement.

Anything is Possible in 2023

Color us a little more skeptical than most, not sure how much Eric Hosmer, Cody Bellinger, and Seiya Suzuki will help in the everyday lineup. We definitely like the acquisition of Dansby Swanson to go along with Ian Happ.

Others like Chicago’s starting pitching and if it holds together, the Cubs could improve.

But we cannot see Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, Kyle Hendricks, and Jameson Taillon making 25 starts a piece, given their history let alone effective ones. No strong opinion on the Cubbies who could pass 77.5 wins but we’ll lean UNDER.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Win NL Central: (+5000) T-4th
  • Win NL: (+10000) 13th
  • Season Win Total: Over/Under 68 Wins

It would be really easy to go super negative on Pittsburgh after back-to-back 100 or more loss seasons. This franchise has had four winning seasons in the last 31 years, that’s a futility few can match. Though this season’s chances of avoiding another losing campaign are remote, there are signs of life, which has not always been the case with the Pirates.

Last season we got our first look at starting pitcher Roansy Contreras and shortstop Oneil Cruz and both rookies were dripping with potential. Having been around long enough to get an understanding of what it takes in the majors should only continue their progress.

Youngsters Show Promise

They weren’t the only Pitt players who gave the locals a piece of hope, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Bryan Reynolds, along with starting pitcher Mitch Keller and closer David Bednar, are part of the foundation for this complete Pittsburgh rebuild.

Andrew McCutchen might not be the player as his first time through Pittsburgh, yet, he’s the last link to when the Bucs had three consecutive winning seasons in the prior decade.

Adding Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana improves the lineup and there is a chance the Pirates could move from 27th to the low 20s in scoring, which would help.

Pitching is still a massive problem and that could be made clearer than having 43-year-old Rich Hill as this team’s No. 2 or No. 3 starter. Pittsburgh could reach 70-72 victories, but we would not use them for MLB picks to do so.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Win NL Central: (+5000) T-4th
  • Win NL: (+12500) 14th
  • Season Win Total: Over/Under 65.5 Wins

For the first time in 40 years, Cincinnati lost 100 games in a season. That was because ownership decided to have a fire sale before and during the 2022 season, trading what were nine players from their preseason 25-man roster.

So what is on tap for 2023, more of the same. It appears ownership is on board with letting their young players take their lumps and developing more players in the minors. The biggest signing, if you want to call it that, was Wil Myers from the Padres.

Holes Everywhere

Other than Jonathan India and an aging Joey Votto, last year’s 23rd-ranked offense will be the same or worse.

The Reds do have three young starters that could improve in Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, and Graham Ashcraft, all 25 or younger, but backed with a bullpen 28th ranked bullpen from a year ago, not sure where the improvement comes from.

Leaning UNDER on the total and might be betting it just before the season starts.

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.