Here's how the NL Central likely stacks up:
The Cubs have Zambrano as their true ace. And like most players he has lost 15 pounds in the offseason. I suppose you either lose 15 lbs., or gain 15 lbs. of muscle depending on your shape in the season past. For Big Z, he needed to dump 15.
Though Maddux seems to be near the end, you could argue he was better last year than in '04. He pitched more innings and gave up less homers. He made 35 starts and threw 3 CGs.
No one knows when or if or why Kerry Wood will pitch again. I'm guessing Jerome Williams will take his slot until he is ready. Wood has been the most frustrating player to watch in my entire baseball viewing life. That's career-wise. If it's one game, it's the deliberate Steve Trachsel. Just maddening.
Glendon Rusch had a bad year. While he was better as a starter, he wasn't that good there either. Oddly he had his way with righties and got shelled by lefties. After the break hitters amassed a .322 BA against him. I don't see how you can expect anything but his career averages: 170-180 IP with an ERA around 4.50.
Prior needs to stay healthy (duh). Some of the injuries have been fluky, but even so, his numbers need to be better than what they have been in 2004 & 2005. Last year he gave up 25 dingers in only 167 IP. His ERA the last 2 years has been 3.67 & 4.02. Last year he did have more K's than IP so hopefully we will see the Year 1 & 2 Prior as opposed to the last 2.
As for the division as a whole, I have it like this: