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NL Central Update: Things are looking up

The Pirates took the top spot, but the Cubs are only 2½ games back.

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Early season baseball truly is the best. Teams that look like they have no wins in them can suddenly find their footing and surge ahead in the standings. Teams that experts anticipated being runaway winners suddenly tumble from top place. It’s messy and frustrating and delightful. Most of all, it’s never boring.

This week saw the NL Central make lots of shuffling in the standings. The Cubs rose from last place, and the Pirates claimed the top spot. But the coming week will likely see things shaken up again. Let’s see what happened last week, and what to expect in the week to come.

Pittsburgh Pirates (12-7)

The Pirates might have had a short week of play with only five games, but they certainly made the most of it. They started things on the road in Detroit, and swept the two-game series. Then they returned home to play host to the San Francisco Giants, and took two of three of that series, giving them just enough success to push ahead to first place in the division.

The coming week is heavy with NL West teams, starting Monday with a four-game series at home against the Diamondbacks, who have fared well on the road so far this season. Then the Pirates head west to take on the Dodgers at home, and the Los Angeles team has a 9-4 record on their home turf and are 7-3 for their last 10 games. The Pirates are going to have to fight to stay on top this week.

Up Next: vs Diamondbacks (4 games); at Dodgers (3 games)

St. Louis Cardinals (12-9)

It wasn’t exactly a bad week for the Cardinals, but their losses against the Brewers didn’t help their place in the standings. So much divisional play to start the season can really shake things up in the week-to-week results. The Cardinals started the week with a three-game series against the Brewers and dropped two of three games there, before heading home to play the Mets, where they won the series, taking two of three games from the New York club.

In the coming week things start in a familiar fashion as they play the Brewers again, this time on their home turf, before the Reds come to town for a three game series of their own. Expect to see more changes in the ranking next week.

Up Next: vs Brewers (3 games); vs Reds (3 games)

Milwaukee Brewers (13-10)

As mentioned in the Cardinals rundown, the Brewers won their first series of the week with two of three games going their way. They weren’t quite as fortunate against the Dodgers, who won three of four games in the next series. Not exactly the wave of momentum the Brewers are hoping to ride into the new week.

They’ll hope for a repeat performance against the Cardinals to start the week, then they’ll head to New York for a three-game weekend series against the Mets. The Mets are second in the NL East at the moment, but have a dismal 2-3 record on home turf, so the Brewers might find themselves getting lucky there.

Up Next: at Cardinals (3 games); at Mets (3 games)

Chicago Cubs (10-10)

If the Cubs were hampered at all by their slow start to the season, they didn’t show it this past week. They climbed out of the bottom spot and are looking to make some more upward movement over the next week. They got the good times rolling with a three-game sweep of the Marlins in Miami, then won their series at home against the Diamondbacks taking two of three games.

This coming week the touring Dodgers will visit Wrigley for a three game series. Then the Cubs will head to Arizona for a rematch against the Diamondbacks in a three-game series there. The D-backs are weaker at home than on the road, so the Cubs will certainly try to take advantage of that.

Up Next: vs Dodgers (3 games); at Diamondbacks (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds (8-13)

I feel like I’ve mentioned the Dodgers 100 times in this rundown already, but here we are for one more. The Reds started their week in Los Angeles and were swept over three games against the Dodgers, really helping the LA team bolster their home win numbers. After that the Reds went south for a four-game series against the Padres and managed to win three-of-four games there. The Reds might be at the bottom of the Central heap but even they are only 5 games back, and series like the one in San Diego can only help them.

This coming week won’t be an easy one though. They head home to start the week and will host the Braves, who are 4-4 while visiting out of town. After that they head to St. Louis for a three game series against the Cardinals.

Up Next: vs Braves (3 games); at Cardinals (3 games)