Fantasy Baseball Second Half Predictions: NL Central


Jul 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League outfielder Ryan Braun (8) of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with third baseman Kris Bryant (17) of the Chicago Cubs after scoring against the American League during the ninth inning of the 2015 MLB All Star Game at Great American Ball Park. The American League all stars won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is taking a break from the regular season to enjoy the festivities of the All-Star break. The Home Run Derby was Monday night and the All-Star game was on Tuesday. As a result, there isn’t much going on fantasy wise until games pick back up again on Friday. Here is the focus on the NL Central for the second half.

In case you missed it, here are the predictions for the NL West and AL West.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have developed a nice corps of young players to compliment their veterans. Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter are two solid pieces in the infield. Each has nice home runs. The addition of Jason Heyward and resurgence of Jhonny Peralta has helped this offense.

Carlos Martinez is finally clicking and could be the next ace if and when Adam Wainwright calls it quits. Martinez paired with young star Michael Wacha could make for a dangerous rotation for the next few years.

The closer position has been a bit of a blur over the last couple of weeks. While Trevor Rosenthal is still the guy, Kevin Siegrist has seen some save opportunities this season. He is the next man up if anything happens to Rosenthal, so keep an eye on him. Randal Grichuk is someone else I like. He has back-to-back three-hit games and should be added as outfield depth in deeper leagues, especially for Matt Holliday owners. 

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Pittsburgh Pirates

Starling Marte has been the Pirates main contributor on offense all season. He leads the team with 13 home runs, second in RBI with 49 and second in stolen bases with 16. His development as a contact, power and speed guy makes him a top-25 outfielder for the rest of the season.

And if the Pirates were smart, they will never let A.J. Burnett go again. He has 15 quality starts with a career-low 2.11 ERA. He has been the surprise of the year to most. However, looking at his previous two seasons in Pittsburgh, it wasn’t that hard to see.

Andrew McCutchen seems to have found his power. After just two home runs in April and five in May, he has three already this month. He will finish the second half strong and warrant a top-five pick next year. Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole have been pitching wonderfully, too. If you can snag any one of these Pirates pitchers, your team will benefit greatly.

Chicago Cubs

Hey, look at that. The Cubs aren’t in last place. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are the one-two power combination this team needs in order to compete in the NL Central. Rizzo has also shown his new wheels on his way to 12 first-half steals.

The closer role is currently in a state of limbo. Hector Rondon was removed from the spot in favor of Jason Motte. However, I think he’s just a place holder until recently-signed Rafael Soriano gets called up after the break and takes over the job. Grab hm now before it’s too late.

Jorge Soler returned to the lineup on July 5 and is back as the everyday right fielder. He adds depth to an injured group of outfielders on the waiver wire. Expect eight second-half home runs from Soler.

Cincinnati Reds

Boy, is Joey Votto making me eat my words? During Spring Training, I called Votto a bust candidate for this season. However, his 15 home runs, 42 RBI and .277 batting average say otherwise. Unless injury strikes, he will be a top-10 first baseman for the rest of the season.

Is Johnny Cueto done in Cincinnati? He’s been the talk of a lot of trade rumors, but nothing has been confirmed. The Reds will hope to keep him and his 2.73 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. His rest-of-season fantasy value rests solely on which team he ends up with. I like him with the Reds and in the NL Central as a top-10 starting pitcher.

100 MPH thrower Aroldis Chapman has also been the subject of some trade talks. There are a lot of teams that can use him as their closer. It all depends on who is willing to give up the most. Regardless, he is a top-five closer for the second half. 

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Milwaukee Brewers

Oft-suspended Ryan Braun is making his case as a top-five outfielder. He has 16 home runs, 56 RBI and a .275 batting average. Replacement-outfielder Gerardo Parra is doing the best he can in order to stay in the starting lineup. In his last 15 games, he has four homers, nine RBI and a 1.22 OPS. As long as he continues to hit like this, he will have a place in the lineup.

The rotation is another story. Last year’s sensation Mike Fiers isn’t pitching as well. He has just seven quality starts and a 3.96 ERA. The rest of the rotation goes down from there. On the other side, rookie Taylor Jungmann is pitching remarkably so far this season. He is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in seven starts. If he is available, he is the only Brewers starting pitcher worth owning.

So those were my predictions for the NL Central in the second half. Some bold, some not so much. The division is filled with some great, young talent that need to be owned in all leagues. The next division will be the AL Central.