Ben Verlander just made enemies with Cubs, Cardinals fans with bold Reds prediction

Will the starting rotation be the key to the Reds winning the NL Central in 2024?

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Elly De La Cruz (44) at bat
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Elly De La Cruz (44) at bat / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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MLB Analyst Ben Verlander hosts the Flippin' Bats Podcast on FOX Sports. Verlander is, of course, the brother of Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander. The younger Verlander was a professional baseball player in his own right, and has notable knowledge of the game.

Verlander said, during his most recent episode of the Flippin' Bats Podast, "If I were to right now, pick the winner of the NL Central this year, I don't see how I'm not taking the Cincinnati Reds."

Verlander cited the Reds starting rotation as one of the biggest reasons that he believes Cincinnati will take home the NL Central crown in 2024, calling it, "by far, the best in the division."

Ben Verlander just made enemies with Cubs, Cardinals fans with bold Reds prediction

Verlander is correct. If Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, and Frankie Montas are all healthy in 2024, the Cincinnati Reds rotation is light years ahead of the likes of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.

Sure, the Cardinals added Sonny Gray, who was a Cy Young finalist last season. But aside from that, the additions of Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson aren't moving the needle. Shōta Imanaga could be a solid piece for the Cubs, but he's never pitched in the big leagues. Throw in the fact that the Milwaukee Brewers traded Corbin Burnes and lost Brandon Woodruff for the season, and Verlander's assertion is spot on.

In addition to the Reds starting rotation, Verlander cites the young core of players that the Cincinnati faithful already know and love. Spencer Steer was the only rookie to play an entire season in the big leagues last season. Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Noelvi Marte, and Matt McLain all played less than 100 games last season.

Verlander is one of the few analysts who've stepped out and publicly stated their affinity for the Reds in 2024. The St. Louis Cardinals are still the popular pick among most media experts, and with the Chicago Cubs re-signing Cody Bellinger, the North Siders will receive all the typical love and praise from the big-market pundits.

But Reds Country, you've got a friend in Ben Verlander this season. He picking your Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Central for the first time in since 2012. While Reds fans will love Verlander's prediction, Cubs and Cardinals fans will hate it.

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