Did the Cubs just join the discussion for the NL Central Title?

We all know it takes more than one player in baseball to put a team into contention.  The draft is far from a sure thing, and once many players get their pay day, they are never the same.  I think the Cards, Reds and Brewers are going to fight it out for the top spot, and on paper, I like the Cardinals chances, as I’ve noted previously.  All 4 teams now have some players that are hungry for their next contract.  I think the Cardinals are dependent on health a lot more than most teams in a way, but we seem to have some depth ready to step up now if something goes wrong with David Freese.  With that being said, you have to wonder if the Cubs are in the discussion now, as they have added Matt Garza.

I overlooked the signings of Carlos Pena and Kerry Wood, but adding Garza along with those players put the Cubs in the discussion now.

If you break down the Cubs against the Cards, Reds and Brewers, you can see it being a 4 way race.  I still think the Cards look good on paper, but I think it’s now possible the Cards could finish from 1st to 4th in the division.  I did a piece a couple of weeks ago looking at the lineups and rotations of the Cards, Brewers and Reds, and now I’m going to bring that table back into play with the Cubs in it.  I’ll do the starting rotations today, and plug in their projected lineup in the next few days.

PitcherCareer W-LCareer ERACareer FIPWAR/200Career WHIPCareer SO/9
Wainwright
STL-RHP
66-352.973.364.161.207.5
Carpenter
STL-RHP
133-833.803.892.911.286.8
Westbrook
STL-RHP
73-754.294.172.011.375.0
Garcia
STL-LHP
14-92.963.742.891.327.0
Lohse
STL-RHP
88-984.794.530.851.435.6
Greinke
MIL-RHP
60-673.823.594.111.267.6
Gallardo
MIL-RHP
36-243.673.513.081.329.4
Marcum
MIL-RHP
37-253.854.463.341.237.3
Wolf
MIL-LHP
114-974.134.341.841.327.3
Narveson
MIL-LHP
14-94.744.210.261.357.8
Cueto
CIN-RHP
32-324.274.511.501.347.3
Volquez
CIN-RHP
28-224.364.302.161.478.7
Arroyo
CIN-RHP
103-934.194.462.391.316.0
Bailey
CIN-RHP
16-165.094.48-0.71.526.9
Wood
CIN-LHP
5-43.513.422.331.087.5
Leake
CIN-RHP
8-44.234.68-0.61.495.9
Zambrano116-743.503.933.701.307.7
Dempster102-1024.374.311.431.457.7
Garza42-443.974.262.701.317.1
Wells20-243.653.923.451.336.1
Silva70-704.684.491.111.394.0

As you can see, the Cubs now have a starting staff that isn’t that bad.  The problem with Garza is the same problem with Shaun Marcum.  How much better will they be leaving the AL East to join the NL Central?  The Brewers still worry me more than any other squad, but anything can happen.  I think when you add the potential of the Cubs offense into the equation, which I’ll do shortly; they have to be in the discussion in the NL Central race.

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