Cardinals vs. Brewers: Who wins in battle for the NL Central?

By Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports activities MLB Author

It’s nonetheless June, but it surely’s fairly protected to say that the NL Central goes to be a two-horse race over the subsequent three months.

That actuality alone makes this division distinctive. For those who have a look at the remainder of the league, there’s both one workforce working away with the division (AL East, AL West, NL East), or three groups inside placing distance of the division lead (AL Central, NL West). 

In the meantime, within the NL Central, Milwaukee and St. Louis are duking it out on the high whereas Pittsburgh, Chicago and Cincinnati at present have three of the 4 worst information within the Nationwide League.

This implies it’s not too early to begin evaluating the Cardinals and Brewers instantly. With the 2 groups squaring off this week in Milwaukee, it is a good time to take inventory of those NL Central heavyweights.

In a story of the tape comparability, just like the one we not too long ago did on the Mets vs. the Yankees, Jake Mintz and I went place by place and determined which workforce, the Cardinals or Brewers, has the sting in every spot.

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Catcher: Yadier Molina/Andrew Knizner vs. Omar Narvaez/Victor Caratini

Intestine intuition is to take the legendary Molina and his unparalleled skill to steer a pitching workers. However along with his current accidents at age 39 (40 on July 13) and objectively horrible offensive manufacturing, we’ll give the slight edge to the Brewers’ duo. Narvaez and Caratini have been one of many higher hitting catching tandems in all of baseball and never too shabby defensively both.

Benefit: Brewers

First base: Paul Goldschmidt vs. Rowdy Tellez

It’s been a pleasure watching Rowdy set up himself as a high quality first baseman since arriving from Toronto through commerce, and he’s been certainly one of Milwaukee’s most constant hitters this yr. Nonetheless, this one isn’t a lot of a debate — Goldschmidt has been unbelievable this season and is a reputable MVP candidate.

Benefit: Cardinals

Second base: Nolan Gorman vs. Kolten Wong

This can be a enjoyable distinction: a former Cardinal in Wong who presents Gold Glove protection and a median bat vs. a rookie in Gorman who’s nonetheless studying to play second base however might have already got essentially the most uncooked energy of any participant at his place. Gorman appears like a future star, however Wong is perhaps the safer alternative for this yr. It’s a toss-up.

Benefit: Even

Third base: Nolan Arenado vs. Jace Peterson

Respect to Peterson, who has already began extra video games this season than any season since 2016 after spending a number of years as a utility bench bat, however this one can be a simple name. Any doubt that Arenado’s offense wouldn’t translate away from Coors Subject has been utterly quashed. He has been super.

Benefit: Cardinals

Shortstop: Tommy Edman vs. Willy Adames

The Adames we noticed within the second half of 2021 was among the finest gamers within the Nationwide League, and he has carried over a few of that success into this season. He’s nonetheless exhibiting plus energy and plus protection, however he’s nonetheless fairly streaky. Edman, in the meantime, moved to shortstop a couple of month in the past and is now apparently a WAR machine? We love each of those guys, however we’ve got to go together with Edman.

Benefit: Cardinals

Outfield: Brendan Donovan/Harrison Bader/Dylan Carlson/Tyler O’Neill vs. Hunter Renfroe/Tyrone Taylor/Christian Yelich

With Lorenzo Cain not too long ago DFA’d, the Brewers flip to Taylor as their middle fielder. He’s flanked by Yelich, who we’re nonetheless desperately ready to see return to MVP type, and offseason addition Renfroe, who has quietly been Milwaukee’s greatest hitter whereas offering stellar protection in proper discipline.

In the meantime, the Cardinals have seen each Carlson and O’Neill regress after 2021 seasons that appeared to portend stardom. Bader continues to be wonderful defensively and fairly ample on the plate. Certain sufficient, it’s Brendan Donovan of all of those who’s performing the very best, as he’s now filling in for the injured O’Neill and getting on base a ton. 

All of which is to say: We do not know what to make of any of those guys, and it’s robust to say which outfield unit is definitively stronger.

Benefit: Even

DH: Albert Pujols/Juan Yepez vs. Andrew McCutchen

Shock, shock: Pujols can nonetheless crush lefties (.951 OPS) and might’t hit a lick anymore vs. righties (.496 OPS). Nonetheless, the emergence of Yepez as a further DH possibility and the continued struggles of McCutchen in his age-35 season give the sting to St. Louis right here.

Benefit: Cardinals

Bench: Edmundo Sosa/Corey Dickerson/Lars Nootbaar vs. Keston Hiura/Luis Urías/Mike Brosseau

Depend us in amongst those that thought Sosa is perhaps on the verge of a breakout in 2022 solely to be harshly dissatisfied so far. We additionally believed that Hiura might be an All-Star after his monster rookie season in 2019, however he has underwhelmed as nicely so far. This one is shut, however Urías’ versatility is so useful and Brosseau has additionally hit nicely when wholesome. We’ll give it to Milwaukee.

Benefit: Brewers

Beginning pitching: Adam Wainwright/Dakota Hudson/Andre Pallante/Miles Mikolas/Jack Flaherty/Steven Matz vs. Corbin Burnes/Eric Lauer/Adrian Houser/Brandon Woodruff/Freddy Peralta/Aaron Ashby

The 2 staffs’ do it in tremendously other ways, however their effectiveness has been shockingly comparable so far this season: The Brewers’ starters ERA of three.76 is simply a contact higher than the Cardinals’ starters’ mark of three.81. And not using a complete lot of swing-and-miss, St. Louis depends closely on its elite protection for run prevention. 

Conversely, all of Milwaukee’s starters save for Houser can rack up the strikeouts to maintain offenses at bay. Even with Peralta and Woodruff coping with accidents, Burnes’ dominance alone provides Milwaukee fairly an edge right here. We’d relatively guess on the workers with elite stuff than the one depending on changing a ton of balls in play into outs. It’s nearer than you’d suppose, although.

Benefit: Brewers

Bullpen: Ryan Helsley/Giovanny Gallegos/Genesis Cabrera vs. Josh Hader/Devin Williams/Brad Boxberger

Helsley’s enormous breakout has really made this one thing of a dialogue. However Milwaukee nonetheless has an enormous depth benefit right here and a a lot stronger monitor file of discovering high quality innings from sudden locations.

Benefit: Brewers

Supervisor: Craig Counsell vs. Oli Marmol

Amongst lively managers, solely Terry Francona and Kevin Money have held their positions longer than Counsell, who’s constantly lauded as among the finest skippers within the league. Marmol’s first yr on the helm is off to a superb begin, however he nonetheless has a ton to show. Counsell is the clear alternative for now.

Benefit: Brewers

WINNER: Jake says Brewers; Jordan says Cardinals

These are our picks. Tell us what you suppose!

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He lives in D.C. however is a large Seattle Mariners fan and loves watching the KBO, which suggests he would not get a whole lot of sleep. You may observe him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

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