MLB win totals: NL Central over or under according to Vegas

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 22: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs pitches \a at Wrigley Field on September 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 22: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs pitches \a at Wrigley Field on September 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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MLB win totals
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Milwaukee Brewers

Win Total: 83.5

Prediction: Over

The Brew Crew will undergo a slight revamp in 2020. They lost a lot of starting pitching, including Zach Davies, Gio Gonzalez, Jhoulys Chacin, and Chase Anderson. But I view that as perhaps a good thing, as several fresh, anxious pitchers will get the chance to take on greater roles.

Brandon Woodruff is listed as the Brewers’ ace. The 27-year-old went 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 2019. Next up is Adrian Houser, who clearly has the stuff, as evidenced by his 1.47 ERA out of the pen in 17 appearances last year. He struggled to a 4.57 ERA in 18 starts, however, and averaged just four innings per start. There’s also potential in 24-year-old southpaw Eric Lauer, 23-year-old righty Freddy Peralta, and 25-year-old righty Corbin Burnes.

With a nice mix of starters and relievers, there’s a good chance Milwaukee puts forth a formidable staff this season. Just get the ball to all-star closer Josh Hader to help add to the win column.

Offensively, the Brewers lost Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal, but added Avisail Garcia and Omar Narvaez, each coming off impressive 2019 campaigns. With Christian Yelich leading the way, Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun consistently producing, and Keston Hiura up and coming, Milwaukee should have no trouble scoring runs. Take the over 83.5.

Chicago Cubs

Win Total: 86

Prediction: Over

Like the Cardinals, the Cubs had a very “meh” offseason. Cole Hamels signed with the Atlanta Braves and short-term acquisition Nicholas Castellanos joined the rival Cincinnati Reds. Other than those two, Chicago maintained just about every notable player from a season ago. Many experts seem down on the Cubs, though I am not one of them.

They certainly underwhelmed in ’19, but the talent remains in ’20. Last year’s offense ranked in the top 10 in MLB in home runs, OPS, OBP, and runs scored. It’s hard to believe a squad with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras finished third in the NL Central. That is a forceful bunch that should give every opposing pitcher a headache.

Expect solid seasons from all of the above, and expect added depth in the batting order with Nico Hoerner taking over at second base. Hoerner is known as an outstanding contact hitter, something the Cubs desperately need in a strikeout-heavy lineup. If the Cubs can finally get consistency out of either Ian Happ or Albert Almora Jr., they could produce a relentless 1-8.

The make-or-break players in my opinion are starting pitcher Yu Darvish and closer Craig Kimbrel. Darvish always has trouble finding a rhythm to start a season. In 2019, his April ERA was 5.02, his May ERA 5.01, and his June ERA 4.91. He then closed the year with a 2.93 July ERA, a 3.45 August ERA, and a 2.39 September ERA. Chicago needs excellence from Darvish from the get-go in 2020. They need at least 13 wins out of him.

We all know what Kimbrel is capable of. 346 career saves to his name, the flame-throwing right-hander didn’t find a team until the end of June last year. He was rusty, as indicated by his 6.53 ERA over 23 appearances. Chicago’s bullpen is already iffy. A vintage, full-fledged season from Kimbrel is an absolute must.

I peg the Cubbies to win over 90 games.