2024 Division Outlook: NL Central

One league and three divisions down, one league and three more divisions to go. The 2024 MLB Season is right around the corner, and it's time to preview and highlight the five squads that make up the National League Central, a division that looks to be up for grabs in 2024.
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Pirates

Oneil Cruz
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Key Additions
- LHP Aroldis Chapman
- 1B Rowdy Tellez
- LHP Marco Gonzales
- LHP Martin Perez

Key Loses
- RHP Vince Velasquez
- INF Miguel Andujar

The Pirates accompany the Reds as teams with a lot of young talent to showcase and build off of for the future. Most of that major league talent is already in the major leagues, with Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds, Ke'Bryan Hayes, and Henry Davis all being front and center in Pittsburgh's lineup. Oneil Cruz is one of the most exciting players in the world, mirroring Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz in that manner. Oneil Cruz boasts some elite offensive potential, as he absolutely smokes the baseball at record levels, while having a cannon of an arm at shortstop. Bryan Reynolds has been a consistently great hitter for the Pirates for some years now, leading him to be rewarded with the largest contract in team history. Ke'Bryan Hayes has challenged Nolan Arenado for the title of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, but is still looking to put it all together offensively. Former first overall pick Henry Davis also looks to keep improving offensively after starting to showcase his power in the major leagues last season. Jack Suwinski is another young outfielder with a lot of quiet power in his left handed swing, so keep an eye on him, as he tends to be overshadowed by the top prospects in Pittsburgh. The rest of the Pirates lineup will have veterans that include Andrew McCutchen, Rowdy Tellez, and Michael A. Taylor.

The brightest pitcher in the Pirates organization will begin the season in the minor leagues, as 2023 first overall pick Paul Skenes will have some time to marinate in the lower levels before moving up. 2023 breakout Mitch Keller will headline Pittsburgh's rotation, as he hopes to improve upon his stellar season from last year and clean up some of his few weak spots. Outside of those two, keep an eye on Jared Jones, a spring training non-roster invite who had an exceptional spring and earned a rotation spot to begin the season. Martin Perez, Bailey Falter, and Marco Gonzalez are the veterans that round off the rotation, with JT Brubaker and Johan Ovideo waiting to come off the IL and contribute.

The Pirates are young and fun, and have the chance to make some noise in 2024. The talent is up and coming in Pittsburgh, but they appear at least a year or two away from moving into a contender role in the National League.

Team MVP: Oneil Cruz

Team Cy Young: Mitch Keller

Team X-Factor: Ke'Bryan Hayes

The Nationals will host the Pirates for their home opener from April 1-4, and visit gorgeous PNC Park for four games from September 5-8.