For the first time in what feels like a long time, there is a bit of a shakeup at the top end of the NL Central standings. The Cubs are staying strong at the top of the heap, but the St. Louis Cardinals are gaining ground and have surpassed the Brewers. With only a half game difference between places two and three, but a widening gap between second and first, things are looking to get very exciting over the coming weeks.
Let’s see what went right (and terribly wrong) for teams in the NL Central this week.
Chicago Cubs 76-53
The Cubs had themselves a very good week, as we predicted they would. They started things off in Detroit with a two-game series against the Tigers, wherein they lost the first outing but won the next day handily. They then returned home to Wrigley to sweep the Reds in a four-game series. Certainly good enough to keep them in the number one spot for another week and continue to put distance between themselves and would-be usurpers.
This coming week will be interesting, with a three-game series against the dismal New York Mets, followed by a single make-up game in Atlanta against the Braves, then off to Philadelphia for three games against the Phillies. It’s a solid-packed week with loads of travel which will make things tough for the Cubs, so let’s hope that game in Atlanta doesn’t run long.
Up Next: vs Mets (3 games); @ Braves (1 game); @ Phillies (3 games)
St. Louis Cardinals 73-58
Consistent chipping away was what the Cardinals needed to get ahead of the flagging Brewers, and this week they proved themselves the better team, climbing into the second place spot and inching closer to a potential wild card berth. Sweeping the Dodgers in three games helped a lot, as did taking two of three against the Rockies, including a pretty impressive 12-3 victory on Sunday to cap off the week.
The path ahead this week doesn’t seem to offer much resistance, with the Cards seeing the Pirates for three games, followed by a three-game series against the Reds, all on the Cardinals home turf. Seems unlikely they’ll be budging from their number two spot, and the Cub will need to work hard to maintain the four-game lead they have.
Up Next: vs Pirates (3 games); vs Reds (3 games)
Milwaukee Brewers 73-59
Remember when the Brewers were in first place for much of the first half? No? Yeah, me either.
They didn’t have a particularly bad week, but it wasn’t enough to surpass the surging Cardinals. First the Brewers took two of three from the Reds, then two of three from the Pirates, but with the Cards sweeping in Los Angeles, it was enough to give the St. Louis team the edge by a half game. Such is the life of baseball, especially at the end of the season.
The week ahead brings some uncertainty, but a lot of opportunity for the Brewers, as they take on the Reds again for a three-game series before heading to Washington to see the Nationals for three games. Could be enough, but the Cardinals might have the edge here.
Up Next: @ Reds (3 games); @ Nationals (3 games)
Pittsburgh Pirates 64-67
This was the epitome of a bad week for the Pirates. To kick it off, they were swept at home in a three-game series against the Braves, and then they headed off to Milwaukee for a three-game series against the Brewers where they won only a single game, but it was a fine 9-1 blowout, at least.
For the week to come things aren’t going to get any easier. They’ll face the Cardinals in a three-games series before squaring off against the Braves once again. Ouch.
Up Next: @ Cardinals (3 games); @ Braves (3 games)
Cincinnati Reds 56-75
Rough times were contagious at the bottom of the NL Central, as the Reds also only managed to win a single game this past week. At this point it almost feels as if the poor Cincinnati club only exists to help bolster other teams (which Cubs fans certainly aren’t going to complain about any time soon). The Reds started out the week against the Brewers and won only one game of the three-game series, before heading to Chicago to be swept by the Cubs in four games.
This week they’ll see the Brewers once again for three more games, then head to St. Louis to play the Cardinals in a three-game series. It would help the Cubs, for sure, if the Reds could win some of those games.
Up Next: vs Brewers (3 games); @ Cardinals (3 games)