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NL Central update: Cubs hold the top spot ahead of All-Star break

The NL Central remains baseball’s tightest race.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

How is it possible that the half point of the season is upon us? While we may have hit the official halfway mark in games a week or two ago, the All-Star break generally reminds us that we are at the peak of summer, and that the long season is now in a decline. With the race for the postseason becoming more of a reality every day, and the July 31st trade deadline looming, the Cubs were able to finish the first half on top, a half game ahead of those pesky Brewers.

It’s worth noting though that the gap between first and last has tightened more as well, with the Reds only 4½ games back from the Cubs. This truly is anyone’s division at this point.

Chicago Cubs 47-43

This past week was not great for the Cubs. They faced the Pirates in a four-game series, and lost three out of those four games. They then took on the White Sox in a two-game rematch series, and split it one win apiece. But they were able to use those two wins well enough to keep the claim over the top spot, and hopefully that will fuel them following the All-Star break.

The first team waiting for them once that break is over: The Pirates, again. The Pirates are presently 6-4 over their last 10 games, giving them the best winning streak in the Central at the moment. What the Cubs have in their favor is a 29-16 home record.

Up Next: vs Pirates (3 games)

Milwaukee Brewers 47-44

The Pirates weren’t the only team in the NL Central to do a number on their divisional rivals. The Brewers took on the Reds in a four-game series, and much like Cubs vs Pirates, the Brewers were only able to collect a single win out of the four. They they took on those aforementioned Pirates and won a single game out of the three-game weekend series. Good news for the Cubs, as the Brewers are only a half-game back, so the same win-loss record over a week helped keep things in check.

After the break the Brewers will see the Giants over the weekend. The Giants are not to be scoffed at. They currently have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games, something the 4-6 Brewers can’t say.

Up Next: vs Giants (3 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 44-44

Speaking of the Giants, there’s a reason I say the Brewers need to be wary, since last week in a three-game series the Cardinals lost two of their three games against the San Francisco team. To start that same week the Cards actually did pretty well, winning two of their three games against the Seattle Mariners.

The weekend they’ll take on the Diamondbacks, whose away record is an impressive 26-23, and are 6-4 over their last 10.

Up Next: vs Diamondbacks (3 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 44-45

I’ve already told you that the Pirates have the best record in the last 10 games of any other team in the Central, but let’s refresh ourselves on what they did last week to get there. First was winning three of four against the Cubs, including an 18-5 trampling to start the week. Then they took on the Brewers and won two of three. So if you’re looking for a reason why the division has tightened so much, look no further.

They’ll be seeing the Cubs again this weekend, and with as many wins on the road as at home, it’s a series that won’t be easy to predict.

Up Next: at Cubs (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds 41-46

The Reds had themselves a pretty decent week, especially if their goal was keeping the Brewers from getting into first place. They won three of their four games against Milwaukee, but against the Cleveland Indians they were less lucky. The Indians won both of their games in Cincinnati, including an 11-1 victory on Sunday.

When the All-Star break ends, the Reds head to Colorado to take on the Rockies in a three-game weekend series. The Rockies are 3-7 over their last 10 games, while the Reds are 5-5. The Reds don’t have the best away record this year (17-25), but with the Rockies in a downturn at the moment, the Reds might be able to take advantage.

Up Next: at Rockies (3 games)