New York- We’re entering MLB’s opening week this Thursday, April 7th. Through a draining lockout period, spring training ramping up, free agency and big-time trades occurring, fans are ready to get back to the ballparks. The anticipation to start the regular season has been unbearable. Today, Latino Sports dissects each team within the National League Central. This division may have the top tier pitching across MLB. Back to back seasons, the NL Cy Young winner came out of the NL Central (2020 Reds: Trevor Bauer & 2021 Brewers: Corbin Burnes). The countdown is on for Opening Day, let’s get to it!
2021 Record: 95-67, Won the NL Central
2021 Result: Loss in NLDS to the Atlanta Braves (3-1)
Key Departures: Free-agent infielder, Eduardo Escobar (NY Mets), Free-agent pitcher, Daniel Norris (Cubs), Free-agent pitcher, Hunter Strickland (Reds), Mutual option outfielder, Avisaíl García (Marlins), Free-agent catcher, Manny Piña (Braves), Traded outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), Free-agent pitcher, Brett Anderson
Key Additions: Signed outfielder, Andrew McCutchen (Phillies), Signed OF/C, Brett Sullivan (Rays), Signed catcher, Pedro Severino (Orioles), Signed pitcher, Trevor Gott (Giants), Acquired outfielder, Hunter Renfroe (Red Sox), Acquired INF/OF, Mike Brosseau (Rays)
Freddy Peralta – Moca, Dominican Republic
2021 Regular Season Statistics (28 games):
2.81 earned run average, 195 strikeouts, 0.970 walks/hits per inning
Freddy Peralta is a finalist for the 32nd Annual Latino Sports National League Starting Pitcher Award.
ST LOUIS CARDINALS
2021 Record: 90-72, 2nd in NL Central, Wild Card appearance
2021 Result: 3-1 loss in NL Wild Card to LA Dodgers
Key Departures: Pitcher, Andrew Miller (Retired), Free-agent pitcher, Luis Garcia (Padres), Free-agent pitcher, Wade LeBlanc, Free-agent pitcher, J.A. Happ, Club option pitcher, Carlos Martínez, Club option infielder, Matt Carpenter, Free-agent pitcher, Jon Lester
Key Additions: Signed pitcher, Steven Matz (Blue Jays), Signed 1B/DH, Albert Pujols (LA Dodgers), Signed outfielder, Corey Dickerson (Blue Jays), Signed pitcher, Nick Wittgren (Guardians), Signed pitcher, Drew VerHagen (Tigers, 2019), Waiver claimed pitchers, Packy Naughton (LA Angels) & Ljay Newsome (Mariners)
Alex Reyes – Elizabeth, New Jersey
Alex Reyes 2021 Regular Season Statistics (69 games):
10-8 record, 3.24 earned run average, 95 strikeouts, 72.1 innings pitched
Giovanny Gallegos – Ciudad Obregón, Mexico
Giovanny Gallegos 2021 Regular Season Statistics (73 games):
3.02 earned average, 14 saves, 95 strikeouts, 80.1 innings pitched
Both Reyes and Gallegos are finalists for the 2021 Latino Sports NL Relief Pitcher/Closer Award.
Yadier Molina – Bayamón, Puerto Rico
The 9x Gold Glove winner, Molina represented Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic during 2013 and 2017. The future hall of famer has accomplished nearly every possible award throughout his 18 year career. Two World Series championships, 10x All-Star, 2018 Roberto Clemente Award and much more.
2021 Record: 83-79, 3rd in NL Central
2021 Result: Failed to make postseason
Key Departures: Free-agent pitcher, Michael Lorenzan (LA Angels), Free-agent pitcher, Mychal Givens (Cubs), Player-opted out of contract, outfielder, Nick Castellanos (Phillies), Traded pitcher, Amir Garret (Royals), Traded outfielder, Jesse Winker (Mariners), Traded shortstop, Eugenio Suárez (Mariners), Traded pitcher, Sonny Gray (Twins), Traded catcher, Tucker Barnhart (Tigers), Free-agent infielder, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Waiver claim pitcher, Wade Miley (Cubs)
Key Additions: Signed outfielder, Tommy Pham (Padres), Signed pitcher, Hunter Strickland (Brewers), Signed 1B/3B, Colin Moran (Pirates), Signed infielder, Donovan Solano (Giants), Acquired pitcher, Mike Minor (Royals), Acquired outfielder, Jake Fraley (Mariners), Acquired pitcher, Justin Dunn (Mariners)
Vladimir Gutiérrez – Pinar del Río/La Habana, Cuba
The 26-year-old made his MLB professional debut against the Chicago Cubs on May 28, 2021. Gutiérrez gave up just two hits with three strikeouts in five innings pitched. This past season, he finished with 88 strikeouts. Gutiérrez is a finalist for the 2021 Latino Sports NL Rookie Award.
2021 Record: 71-91, 4th in NL Central
2021 Result: Failed to make postseason
Key Departures: Free-agent catcher, Robinson Chirinos (Orioles), Free-agent pitcher, Zach Davies (Diamondbacks), Free-agent infielder, Matt Duffy (LA Angels), Traded infielder, Sergio Alcántara (Diamondbacks), Waiver claimed pitcher, Trevor Megill (Twins)
Key Additions: Signed outfielder, Seiya Suzuki (Japan), Signed pitcher, Marcus Stroman (NY Mets), Signed pitcher, Drew Smyley (Braves), Signed OF/INF, Jonathan Villar (NY Mets), Signed pitcher, Mychal Givens (Reds), Signed pitcher, Daniel Norris (Brewers), Signed pitcher, David Robertson (Rays), Signed outfielder, Clint Frazier (NY Yankees), Signed shortstop, Andrelton Simmons (Twins), Signed catcher, Yan Gomes (Athletics), Waiver claimed pitcher, Wade Miley (Reds), Acquired infielder, Esteban Quiroz (Rays)
Wilson Contreras – Puerto Cabello, Venezuela
2021 Regular Season Statistics (128 games):
21 home runs, 57 runs batted in, .340 on base percentage
2021 Record: 61-101
2021 Result: Last place in NL Central
Key Departures: Free-agent pitcher, Trevor Cahill, Free-agent pitcher, Shelby Miller, Traded pitcher, Listher Sosa, Traded catcher, Jacob Stalings (Marlins), Cleared waivers 1B/3B, Colin Moran (Reds)
Key Additions: Signed pitcher, Heath Hembree (Reds), Signed first baseman, Daniel Vogelbach (Brewers), Signed catcher, Roberto Pérez (Guardians), Signed pitcher, José Quintana (Giants), Waiver claimed outfielder, Greg Allen (NY Yankees), Acquired INF/OF, Josh VanMeter (Diamondbacks)
Roberto Pérez – Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
In 2016, Pérez was a key contributor to the Cleveland Indians American League Pennant and World Series appearance against the Chicago Cubs. He played in the 2017 World Baseball Classic for the Puerto Rico National team. In back-to-back seasons, Pérez won the Gold Glove award (2019, 2020). He signed with Pittsburgh during this offseason.
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