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The week in the NL Central: A new month, Cubs fall to second

There’s still lots of baseball left to play

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Welcome to July! We are now over the halfway mark of the season, with most teams having played in the range of 82 to 85 games of their 162 game seasons. The NL Central remains the closest, “it’s anyone’s game” division, with only 6½ games between the Reds and the Brewers. Truly a good run (or a bad one) could change the rankings within the span of a week.

We have seen a flip-flop in the top spot with the Brewers and Cubs switching first place again, but the Cubs are only a game back, so let’s see what lies ahead.

Milwaukee Brewers 46-39

Things went so-so for the Brewers last week, where they kicked things off by dropping two of their three games against the Mariners. Then they faced the Pirates and reversed that trend, winning two of three against the Pittsburgh club. Winning half their games was apparently all it took to reclaim first place though.

This week they’ve started with a bang, winning their first game against the Reds to kick off a four-game series. Then they’ll be headed to Pittsburgh for a rematch against the Pirates over the weekend.

Up Next: @ Reds (3 more games); at Pirates (3 games)

Chicago Cubs 45-40

Things went pretty much the same for the Cubs last week as the Brewers. The Cubs started things off by splitting their four-game series against the Braves with two wins apiece. Then they unfortunately dropped two of three against the Reds.

This week is not off to a great start, with the Cubs dropping their first game against the Pirates in a nasty 18-5 trampling, which dropped them to second place. They’ll have three more games to make it up before another Crosstown series will take them to the South Sideand they’ll square off against the White Sox for a two-game weekend series. The White Sox are actually 22-18 at home right now, so the Cubs won’t want to take the wins as a given.

Up Next: at Pirates (3 more games); at White Sox (2 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 41-41

The Cardinals had a fairly light week of play with only five games scheduled, but even with that they were only able to collect a single win. First they were swept in their two-game series against the Athletics, then they headed to San Diego, where they were only able to win a single game in that three-game series.

This coming week will see the team headed north for a three-game series against the Mariners, who are currently only 17-25 at home. Then they’ll come back to California for a three-game series against the Giants. The Giants are similarly struggling on their home turf with a 18-25 record. If the Cardinals hope to do better than a .500 record going into the All-Star break, they will need to win at least one series this week.

Up Next: at Mariners (3 games); at Giants (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 40-43

The Pirates are no longer tied for last, and for good reason, they had themselves a pretty solid week. First they won two of three against the Astros, and they didn’t just win those games, they dominated them, with scores of 14-2 and 10-0. Then they saw the Brewers for three games, winning the first in the series but dropping the next two.

This week the high scoring returned, with their 18-5 Monday victory over the Cubs. They’ll play three more against the Cubs before inviting the Brewers to Pittsburgh for a three-game weekend rematch. The Pirates are only 18-19 at home right now, but clearly looking to better those odds, and their own record.

Up Next: vs Cubs (3 more games); vs Brewers (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds 38-44

The Reds are sole owners of last place again, likely due to their lighter schedule last week (and also the Pirates success). The Reds started things off on the west coast getting swept in a two-game series against the Angels (both games, amusingly, were 5-1 victories). They then headed home for a three-game series against the Cubs, where they were able to win the series, winning two of the three games.

Coming into the new week they’ve already lost their first game against the Brewers in a four-game series. For the weekend, they’ll go interleague with a two game series against the Indians. Once an unstoppable force, the Indians are struggling in a division being dominated by the Minnesota Twins. The Cleveland team does have a 20-20 record on the road though, and are 6-4 over their last 10, so the Reds have their work cut out for them this week.

Up Next: vs Brewers (3 more); vs Indians (2 games)