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State of the NL Central: Cubs still on top

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But the Brewers are right on their heels

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Memorial Day, readers! While you enjoy some well-earned downtime, we’re going to look at the week that was in the NL Central. Not much movement in the standings, but with only 6½ games between the bottom and the top, this really is anyone’s division.

The Cubs remain it the top spot, with the Brewers right behind them, only 1.5 games back and with eerily similar stats across the board, both having a 5-5 record over the last 10 games, both have 18 home wins and 12 away wins. The only deficit against the Brewers is their extra three losses on the season so far.

Let’s take a look at what went right and wrong for the NL Central this past week.

Chicago Cubs 30-21

Last week could have gone better for the Cubs. First off they faced the Phillies for four-game series and split the series two games apiece. Then they went on to face division rivals the Reds for three games over the weekend and lost the series, dropping two games to the Cincinnati club, including an ugly 10-2 loss on Sunday afternoon.

In the coming week they’ll be challenged again, taking on the AL West leading Houston Astros in three-game series in Texas, before heading to St. Louis for a three-game weekend series against the Cardinals. The Cardinals right now are 16-12 at home, but have struggled recently, going 3-7 over their last 10 games. The Astros, on the other hand, are 6-4 over their last 10 and have a very solid 20-7 record at home, meaning they’re going to pose a significant challenge to the Cubs.

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

Milwaukee Brewers 30-24

The Brewers might have has an opportunity to surge ahead in the standings this week if they hadn’t had the EXACT same week as the Cubs did, almost literally. First they saw the Reds in a short two-game series and split the series one game apiece. They then played the Phillies in a three-game series where the Phils took two of the three games in that series.

Up next is an interesting set of games with the Brewers heading to Minnesota to take on the red-hot Twins, who have a mammoth 10-game lead in the AL Central, and are 9-1 on their last 10 games. They’ll then face the Pirates in a four-game series, and the Pirates have a jam-packed week, which we’ll get into below, but the intense schedule for Pittsburgh might be a boon for the Brewers, who will likely have a tough go in Minneapolis.

Up Next: at Twins (2 games); at Pirates (4 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 26-26

The Cards started the week with a rainout at home, forcing their two-game set against the Kansas City Royals into a doubleheader, which then was split. The Cardinals then saw the Braves come to town for a three-game series and subsequently dropped two of three games to the Atlanta club.

In the week ahead they’ll see the Phillies, and if the last week is any indication, they’ll probably split that series, since that seems to be how the Phillies are working their way through the Central right now. To end the week they’ll see the Cubs at home for a three-game series.

Up Next: at Phillies (3 games); vs Cubs (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 25-25

It was a tough week for the Pirates as they faced off against two NL West teams. First a three-game series against the Rockies netted them a single win (but a solid 14-6 victory it was!) and then the Dodgers came to town and swept their way through a three-game series.

The team won’t have much of a chance to catch their breath this week, as they kick things off with a four-game series against the Reds, including a Monday doubleheader. The Reds are 12-11 at home, and the Pirates 15-11 on the road, tipping things slightly in the Pirates favor here. After the trip to Cincinnati, the Pirates will return home for a four-game series against the Brewers. It’s going to be a long haul for the Pirates this week.

Up Next: at Reds (4 games); vs Brewers (4 games)

Cincinnati Reds 24-28

It was a short week for the Reds last week, but one that saw them do well in two series with their higher-placed division rivals. They took two of three games against the Brewers and two of three against the Cubs, which has to put them in a good mood going into a tough week ahead.

First the aforementioned four-game series against the Pirates, including the Monday doubleheader. Then they will invite the Nationals to town for a three-game weekend series. The Nationals are 9-17 in away games, and 4-6 over their last 10 games.

Needless to say both the Pirates and the Reds will be looking forward to catching their breath next Monday.

Up Next: a tPirates (4 games); vs Nationals (3 games)