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State of the NL Central: July 30

Cubs hold on for another week.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cubs have managed to keep their throne for the first full week of play since the All-Star break. Even with a little bit of uneven luck, and the ever-present threat of the Brewers lurking behind them, the top spot remained untouched.

In fact, there were no changes at all in the standings over the past week, something that may change going into the next week with the Pirates eyeing a climb to second and the Brewers hoping to retake the lead.

Let’s see what happened last week.

Chicago Cubs 61-44

There were no sweeps one way or the other for the Cubs last week, and that was enough to keep them in number one, but only by a sliver. They split their four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks two games apiece (and in the two games won by the D-Backs, the Cubs only managed to score a single run in each). They then took on the Cardinals, and though they dropped the first two games in the series, they were able to come away with a win on Sunday.

They’ll hope to take that momentum into the new week, where they’ll start with a quick two-game series against the Pirates, before hosting the Padres for a four-game match at Wrigley. With the Royals looming on the horizon next week, the Cubs have reason to be hopeful of maintaining their position, but the Pirates won’t make it easy for them, so the next two games will be important.

Up Next: @ Pirates (2 games); vs Padres (4 games)

Milwaukee Brewers 61-47

This past week showed that the Brewers have no intention of letting up on their quest to reclaim first place, and considering they have the same number of wins as the Cubs right now, they’re breathing right down Chicago’s neck, only 1½ games back. They started the week against the Nationals and won two of three, then headed to the west coast to take three of four against the Giants.

Another west coast team will challenge the Brewers mettle this week, as the Dodgers play host for a four-game series. Then the Rockies will meet the Brewers at home for a three-game match-up. None of this will be easy for the Milwaukee club, so they’ll need to really tough it out over the next seven days.

Up Next: @ Dodgers (4 games); vs Rockies (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 55-52

Here’s the thing about the Pirates: they’re great lately, but also they lost two games to the Mets. This past week the Pirates manage to win two of three against the Indians, then dropped their first game to the Mets 12-6. They were able to win the next two games against the Mets but dropped the final game of the series, splitting the four games at two apiece. It just goes to show you can’t assume that a team will be easily swept just because of poor seasonal perfomance and a lot of injuries. Baseball is a funny game.

This week the Pirates will have a short two-game series against the Cubs to kick things off, then they’ll host the Cardinals for a three-game match. No obvious winners or losers in those divisional matches, either. Everyone will need to claw for each win they get.

Up Next: vs Cubs (2 games); vs Cardinals (3 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 53-52

Not a great week for the Cardinals, but not a terrible one either. Much like the Cubs they really split things down the middle, just enough to maintain the status quo. The Cards lost two-of-three games against the Reds to start the week, before hosting the Cubs and winning two of those three games.

Up next they’ll take on the Rockies in a four-game series, before heading to Pittsburgh for a three-game series against the Pirates.

Up Next: vs Rockies (4 games); @ Pirates (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds 48-58

We already mentioned above that the Reds has success in their series against the Cardinals, but they continued that run of good luck in a four-game set against the NL East division-leading Phillies, where the Reds won three of the four games, including a 4-0 Sunday shutout.

Up next the Reds will face the struggling Detroit Tigers for a two-game series before heading to Washington to face the the under-.500 Nationals in a four-game series. This could prove to be a very good week for the Reds.

Up Next: @ Tigers (2 games); @ Nationals (4 games)