Ranking strength of early NL schedules

Starlin Castro and the Cubs are not getting help from their early-season schedule. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty Images

In following Tuesday's column ranking the American League's early-season schedules, Wednesday we have the National League. The teams are ranked toughest to easiest in caliber of early-season schedule.

1. Chicago Cubs

Games vs. teams with records of .500 or better in 2013: 31 of first 40.

Home/away: 18 of their first 40 are at home.

Notables: The Cubs basically get to run an NL Central gauntlet in the first quarter of the season, with 21 of their first 40 games against the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates.