The Z Files: NL Central Playing Time Preview

The Z Files: NL Central Playing Time Preview

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

This week's trip through the MLB divisions stops in the Midwest. We'll begin in the Windy City, head north for some beer and bratwurst before hanging a left towards the Arch. Our tour continues in the Steel City before ending in the Queen's City. Let's kick off the new year with a look at the playing time questions in the National League Central.

CHICAGO CUBS

Outfield

The position battles will be in center and right field with Ian Happ, Albert Almora, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward the main combatants. It's tough to handicap, especially with Joe Madden holding the reins, but this could be the season Zobrist drops back into his super-utility role. If Happ hits, he'll play, though Almora Jr. and Heyward are better defenders. I like Happ's stick, but I can't pay full freight with so many moving parts.

Starting Pitching

This is the main area needing attention with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey hitting free agency. Tyler Chatwood lines up to replace Lackey. Obviously, Wrigley Field is a nice park upgrade for him, but keep in mind the venue increases walks even more than Coors Field, so unless Chatwood can harness his control the transition may not go as swimmingly as many anticipate. Replacing Arrieta is more of a chore with Yu Darvish or a return of the veteran right-hander at the top of the Cubs' wish list. A trade is also possible.

Bullpen

Brandon Morrow was signed, ostensibly to be the closer. The caveat

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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