Naturally, every team plays their division rivals the most. For the Cubs, that’s NL Central, and it’s been a pretty unpredictable division for the last few years. Definitely less predictable than AL West, for example. So, it’s a pretty natural conclusion that the Cubs’ division rivals will either give them a lot of wins or a lot of losses, which in turn decides if the Cubs make or miss the playoffs.

We’ll start by figuring out how the Cubs fared against their rivals in 2021.

 

  • The Cubs were 4-15 vs the Brewers in 2021
  • The Cubs were 9-10 vs the Cardinals in 2021
  • The Cubs were 8-11 vs the Reds in 2021
  • The Cubs were 14-5 vs the Pirates in 2021
Overall, the Cubs were 35-41 vs their division rivals in 2021 and played a total of 76 out of 162 games vs them. So, playing almost half of your season vs your division is pretty important, and the fact that the Cubs had a losing record vs every team except the Pirates is very telling.
The Brewers DID win the division and their pitching is nasty, so it isn’t too much of a surprise that the Cubs struggled so much against them. The Cardinals and Reds were both pretty decent in 2021 and the Cardinals made the playoffs, and the Reds almost did, so it’s not a huge surprise the Cubs had a losing record to them, though not a HUGE margin.
I’m thankful that the Cubs didn’t have a losing record to the Pirates (that would be embarrassing), but overall, the Brewers were the ones that caused the most trouble to the Cubs.
2021 is past us now. The Cubs are a pretty different team now. So are the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals. If I was just going based off of my assumptions and predictions, I would assume some basic stuff (the Cubs are still going to struggle against Brewers pitching, etc.), but Fangraphs puts out every team’s ZiPS, which are basically a prediction of how each team will do in 2022. So, I’ll put out pictures of each NL Central teams’ ZiPS and compare them to the Cubs.
To start off, here is the Cubs’ ZiPS:

Of course, the Cubs added Simmons and will likely add more, as well as lost Alzolay (a few months) and Heuer (the whole season), so it’s not entirely accurate, but pretty close.

 

The Brewers

The Brewers notably added McCutchen and resigned Boxberger, so a couple additions but the basic projections are there.

 

The Cardinals

Cardinals sure look like position player strong, and offense will likely be pretty good.

 

The Reds

The Reds traded Winker, Suarez, and Gray so far, so some of their strength is gone, but still a somewhat decent team.

 

The Pirates

Comparing them, it seems like the Cubs will likely struggle against Brewers’ pitching, the Cardinals’ offense, and the Reds will just be a pain in the side. Overall, the Cubs aren’t TOO bad of a team, but the Brewers and Cardinals are definitely better teams on paper.

 

 

 

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