Cubs and Cardinals aces out paves the way for Reds to take early advantage

Two of the best pitchers in the NL Central are on the IL.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele (35) grabs his leg
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele (35) grabs his leg / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As a fan, you never want to win because another team suffers an injury to one of their best players. There's something dissatisfying about watching your favorite team win while the opponent isn't at full-strength.

But injuries are part of the game, and as Reds fans know all too well, it's important to build depth into your organization in order to overcome injuries. The Cincinnati Reds are currently without Matt McLain, TJ Friedl, and Brandon Williamson due to injury.

But Cincinnati has proven during the first few games of the season that their built to weather the storm. Both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will tested right out of the chute as well. Both NL Central foes have suffered devastating losses to their starting rotation in the early going, and it may help the Reds to gain a leg up in the NL Central.

Justin Steele and Sonny Gray are currently on the injured list

The Cubs placed left-hander Justin Steele on the 15-day IL after the NL Cy Young contender suffered a hamstring injury this past weekend against the Texas Rangers. Steele was chasing down a bunt attempt off the bat of Leody Tareras, and came up holding the back of his leg after failing to record the out. The Cubs will call upon Ben Brown to replace Steele in the rotation. The southpaw is expected to miss about a month.

The Cardinals began the season without their ace. Sonny Gray signed a three-year, $75 million deal with St. Louis this offseason after flirting with a return to Cincinnati. But Gray suffered a hamstring injury of his own during spring training. Gray is ahead of Steele in terms of his return and could be back in the Cardinals' rotation by the middle of April.

Neither injury is a season-ender for Steele or Gray, but as fans know, hamstring injuries can linger through the season. It would not be out of the realm of possibilities for Steele or Gray to suffer a setback and return to the IL later this season. During his final season with the Reds, Gray landed on the IL three separate times.

The baseball season is a grind, and injuries happen. But with the Cubs and Cardinals rotations missing their frontline starters, the Reds have an opportunity to take an early lead in the NL Central. However, at the moment, the Cubbies and Cards would seem to be the least of Reds' concerns. The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently undefeated, as are the Milwaukee Brewers. The NL Central is shaping up to be a slugfest in 2024.

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