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State of the NL Central: Cubs, Brewers now tied for top spot

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It’s still one of the most closely matched divisions in baseball

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With a division this close, it’s incredible to see how things can change from week to week, with no one being a clear first-place team, and only a single game separating the Cubs and Brewers at the moment, with a mere 5½ games between first and fifth place. For perspective, the Dodgers currently have a 10½ game lead on the second place Rockies in the NL West, and the Minnesota Twins have that same 11½ game lead on the second place Indians in the AL Central. The NL Central is still anyone’s division.

Let’s see how things went for the Central clubs last week.

Milwaukee Brewers 34-27

To start things off, the Brewers faced the aforementioned red-hot Twins in a two-game series in Minneapolis, which they split one game apiece. Then the Brewers headed to Pittsburgh for a four-game series, in which they took three of the four games — a series win which certainly helped bolster the Brewers in their climb to the top spot this week.

Up next they’ll have home team advantage over the Marlins for three games — the first of which they lost in a nasty 16-0 victory for the Marlins which forced them back into a tie with the Cubs, before a rematch with the Pirates in a three-game weekend series in Milwaukee. The Pirates have been very effective on the road, with a 17-13 record, so it may not be the rematch the Brewers are hoping for.

Up Next: vs Marlins (2 more games); vs Pirates (3 games)

Chicago Cubs 33-26

The Cubs did not have the week they were hoping for last week, and a quick look at their record is enough to see why they dropped from first place. There was the three-game series against the Astros, where the Cubs won only a single game. Then a three-game series against the arch-rival Cardinals, where the Cardinals apparently took some umbrage with the “St. Louis is boring” joke from the Cubs Convention, and proceeded to sweep the series. Oof.

On Monday the Cubs were among very few teams slated to play ahead of the amateur draft, making up for an April snow-out against the Los Angeles Angels. The Cubs took that game in a solid 8-1 victory. Up next they’ll have two more games against the Rockies after defeating them Tuesday, before inviting the Cardinals to Wrigley for a chance at redemption in a three-game weekend series.

Up Next: vs Rockies (2 more games); vs Cardinals (3 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 30-29

If not for that series sweep against the Cubs, we’s also be pointing to a bad week from the Cardinals as helping the Brewers climb the ranks. First was a three-game series against the Phillies, in which the Philadelphia club took two of the three games. Then they played the Cubs in the aforementioned series sweep.

This week will be a three-game match against the Reds — the first of which the Reds won — who are only 12-17 in road games at the moment, followed by the rematch with the Cubs this weekend.

Up Next: vs Reds (2 games left); at Cubs (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 28-31

It was a jam-packed week for the Pirates, and they were probably happier than anyone for the off day on Monday. First up was a four-game series against the Reds, including a Monday doubleheader, and the teams split that series two games apiece. Then the Pirates played host to the Brewers and won a single game in that four-game stretch.

Now, after a little rest, they will be hosting the Braves for a three-game series — the first of which the Braves won — before heading to Milwaukee for a rematch against the Brewers. Neither series will be an easy one, but the trip to Milwaukee has the better odds, based on the Pirates history at away fields.

Up Next: vs Braves (2 games left); at Brewers (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds 28-32

The Reds kicked things off with that four-game series against the Pirates, which was split two games each. They then played host to the Washington Nationals this weekend and were able to come away with a single win in that three-game series.

In this coming week they’ll be facing off against the Cardinals on the road for a three-game series — the first of which the Reds won — before heading to the City of Brotherly Love to see the Phillies in a three-game weekend series. The Phillies have a solid 20-11 home record, and the Cardinals are currently 19-12 at home, so this won’t be an easy week for the Reds.

Up Next: at Cardinals (2 games left); at Phillies (3 games)