Pittsburgh Pirates: Why pitching will determine NL Central Crown

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Cincinnati Reds: When comparing the three teams, I definitely like the Reds’ starting rotation the most, especially if they get ace Johnny Cueto back late in the season. If Cueto makes it back in time for the two late season series’ against the Bucs, that will be big as the Pirates never have and likely never will hit him.

However while the Reds have the arms in the rotation, you have to be concerned about their bullpen, which has been extremely taxed.

Aug 19, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Diamondbacks 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Throw in the injury to Tony Cingrani and there should be some major concerns heading down the stretch.

Looking at the Reds bullpen, you have to like what guys like J.J. Hoover and Sam LeCure have done so far this season, but similar to what I said about the Cardinals young arms, you have to wonder if they are ready for primetime?

They have an opportunity to make a statement with seven of their next 10 games against the Cardinals before a nice break in the schedule before wrapping things up with six of nine against the Bucs.

Despite injuries to Cueto, Sean Marshall, John Broxton, Cingrani and many others, the Reds have still managed to boast the NL’s fourth best team ERA (3.37) and sixth best bullpen ERA (3.50).

On paper the Reds may be the most talented team of the three, but you have to wonder if their bullpen is too taxed and if some of their young relievers will be able to get big outs late in September.


When comparing the three teams’ pitching staffs, you have to like how the Pirates stack up against the other two teams.

But that means very little at this point.

It’s all about which of the three teams pitches the best down the stretch.

All three teams have questions they have to answer for in regards to their pitching staffs. Whichever team can answer those questions the best will likely be able to call themselves National League Central champs.

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