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State of the NL Central: July 9

The song remains the same.

Atlanta Braves v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

One of these weeks I’m going to be able to tell you the Cubs have claimed the top spot, but this will not be that week. In fact, you’ll notice that the standings have once again remained completely unchanged, albeit with a few adjustments in the games back department (and the Reds edging ever closer to usurping the Pirates).

Let’s see what made and broke the NL Central teams this week.

Milwaukee Brewers 54-36

The Brewers had one heck of a week, making it pretty obvious why they maintained their hold on the top spot. They swept the Twins in a three-game series (and the Twins still somehow managed to get up to the number two spot in the AL Central, which says more about the AL Central than it does the Twins). Then the Brewers invited the Atlanta Braves to town, and managed to take three of four in that series, giving them a solid six-win week.

This coming week is going to be jam-packed for the Brewers with a three-game series against the Marlins (currently dead last in the N.L.) and a FIVE-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates (thanks to a Saturday doubleheader). Neither team is likely to put up much trouble for the Brewers, so with the added bonus of the extra game, don’t count on the Cubs to overtake them this week.

Up Next: @ Marlins (3 games); @ Pirates (5 games)

Chicago Cubs 51-36

The Cubs had a wonderful week themselves, but with a less full schedule than the Brewers it wasn’t quite enough to make the surge ahead. First they swept the Tigers in a two-game series that included a truly magnificent steal of home from Javier Baez that will play in highlight reels for the rest of time on, and they follow that up by taking two of three against the Reds. All three games with the Reds came down to one-run wins.

The Cubs will now hit the West Coast, just to really mess with your sleep schedules. First they’ll take on the Giants in a three-game series before heading south to San Diego for three games against the Padres. It’s hard to predict how either of these N.L. West matchups will go, but needless to say it’s going to be a well-battled week for the Cubs.

Up Next: @ Giants (3 games); @ Padres (3 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 46-43

Speaking of West Coast trips, the Cardinals just finished one of their own, and to mixed results. They took two of three games against the Diamondbacks, and followed that up by splitting a four-game series against the Giants, two games apiece. The Giants series was a fun one, score wise, because it was bookended by two high scoring games (11-2 for the Cardinals and then 13-8 for the Giants) with two 3-2 games in the middle.

The Cardinals have a pretty light week ahead, with a two-game set against the Chicago White Sox followed by a three-game series against the Reds. They should fare well, but don’t expect them to make any massive jumps in the standings.

Up Next: @ White Sox (2 games); vs Reds (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 41-48

The Pirates had the exact opposite week as the Brewers, and oh boy it was bad. They finished their West coast trip by being swept by the Dodgers (including a really ugly 17-1 loss to kick off the series), and then headed home where they started their series against the Phillies with an equally ugly 17-5 loss. They were able to win the final game of that three-game series, but it would be their only win all week.

They head into the new week with three games against the Nationals (who are having their own bad luck) and then the aforementioned five-game set against the Brewers. It’s going to be a tough week ahead for the Pirates.

Up Next: vs Nationals (3 games); vs Brewers (5 games)

Cincinnati Reds 39-51

The Reds fared better than the Pirates last week, which is one reason they find themselves inching ever closer to claiming that number four spot. They kicked off the week by taking two of three from the White Sox, and managed to win the series opener against the Cubs in a close battle before losing the remaining two games of the series.

The coming week will really be a test for them, and one they might not be ready for. They’ll tackle the Cleveland Indians, who after a shaky start to the season are now poised to take a huge lead in the weak A.L. Central. If that three-game series wasn’t enough to make them sweat, they’ll then head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals. Not an easy week by any means (but probably easier than what the Pirates are facing, if we’re being honest).

Up Next: @ Indians (3 games); @ St. Louis (3 games)