2023 NL Central Breakout Stars
The NL Central always feels up for grabs and this year feels no different. Can a potential 2023 NL Central breakout star swing the division race? With no elite-loaded contender in this division, it feels like everyone except maybe Cincinnati has a chance. Let’s check out some potential X-Factors you should keep an eye on in the NL Central for the 2023 MLB Season.
Chicago Cubs: Hayden Wesneski
The Scott Effross deal is starting to look like a steal. Effross is hurt and Wesneski had a super strong rookie season. Wesneski sported a 2.18 ERA across 33 innings for Chicago as a rookie. It looks likely he’s going to be part of a rotation spot for the Cubs in 2023. If we get the guy we saw last year, Chicago should be thrilled about having a cheap impact starter locked down for years to come.
Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo
I thought about going in a lot of directions but Lodolo has a chance to turn into a sneaky lefty starter that many teams would love to have. A 3.66 ERA on a bad team as a rookie is nothing to sneeze at. Lodolo is a funky lefty that looks like he has staying power. Batters hit just .136 against Lodolo’s curveball a year ago. If he can ever figure out a way to get more bite on the sinker and create more groundballs, then you REALLY might have something here.
Milwaukee Brewers: Brice Turang
Brice Turang was once thought of as a superstar prospect but slipped during his draft year. The middle infield in Milwaukee continues to be a mystery and Turang very well may take this job over. Turang over a full season at the AAA level last year hit .286 and stole 33 bags. Given the uncertainty in Milwaukee with their middle infield, expect to see Turang sooner rather than later.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Roansy Contreras
The Jameson Taillon trade might finally start paying dividends for the Pirates in 2023. Roansy Contreras, a piece of the Taillon trade, showed serious promise as a rookie a year ago. Heading into year two will all be about building consistency.
Expect 2023 to be the year where Contreras really turns the corner and turns into a reliable starter for Pittsburgh for a number of years to come. Word on the street is he’s been working on a changeup that would be something that really turns up the heat on his fastball.
St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Gorman
This dude rakes. We just haven’t seen it yet, but probably will shortly. The former first round pick in 2018 hit 14 homers as a rookie but in limited playing time. It’s going to be about limiting the strikeout numbers and getting on base more for Gorman. If he can hit in the .240 range with 35 bombs I’m sure Cards fans will take that as a sophomore year.