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N.L. Central update: The Cardinals take the top spot

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There’s still a month left in baseball’s most competitive division.

Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If someone had asked me in April who would be leading the N.L. Central by the end of August, I’d have hoped for the Cubs, but admitted that perhaps the Brewers might have made a run for it. There was no way I would have predicted the latter half run the Cardinals have made, or that they would take the number one spot in the division by August 26.

Let’s have a look at last week, and what’s to come, to see if this is a short-lived claim, or if the Cubs should worry.

St Louis Cardinals 71-58

The Cardinals have been on a heck of a tear lately, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. They started last week with a three-game series against the Brewers, winning two of three, then swept the Rockies in a four-game series at home, including a 6-0 shutout on Saturday.

They’ll be on familiar ground this week as they head to Milwaukee for a rematch against the Brewers, playing a three-game series there, before they head home to face the Reds in a four-game weekend series, including a Saturday split double-header. The Reds have been on a bit of a slump lately, going only 4-6 over their last 10, the worst ten-game record in the NL Central.

Up Next: at Brewers (3 games); vs Reds (4 games)

Chicago Cubs 69-61

It was a tale of two series last week for the Cubs, and oh how different they were. The Cubs started the week facing off against the Giants, and swept the three-game series. Then as they headed into the Players’ Weekend, the new uniforms proved deeply unlucky, and the team was swept in their three-game series against the Nationals.

Hoping for better luck this week, the team heads to New York for a three-game series against the Mets. A few months ago I’d have called this a sure bet for the Cubs, but with the team’s struggles on the road, going only 25-39 all season, and the Mets strong 37-24 home record and recent surge of wins, it won’t be an easy series. For the weekend the Cubs will play host to the Brewers, which will hopefully go a little better.

Up Next:at Mets (3 games); vs Brewers (3 games)

Milwaukee Brewers 67-63

The Brewers managed just as many wins as the Cubs last week, but split theirs between two three-game series. The aforementioned meeting with the Cardinals saw the Brewers win only a single game. Then the team played host to the Diamondbacks, and managed to win two of those three games at home.

The Brewers will have an all division rival week ahead, which could help or hurt them depending how things go. They’ll play another three-game series against the Cardinals to start the week, this time with home field advantage, before they head to Chicago to take on the Cubs in a three-game series at Wrigley. Since both the Cubs and Brewers are 5-5 over their last 10, this really is anyone’s week.

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

Cincinnati Reds 60-69

Things did not go well for the Reds last week. At all. They started the week not too poorly, winning their series against the Padres by taking two of three games. But then they faced off against the Pirates, in what should have been an easy series to split, given Pittsburgh’s luck since the All-Star break. Instead, the Pirates swept the Reds over three games, including a 14-0 shutout on Saturday.

The week ahead will see them take on the Marlins for a four-game series. The Marlins are currently 3-7 over their last 10, and their 27-40 home record is hardly dazzling. However the Reds don’t perform well on the road, going only 23-38. That also won’t help them much when they head to St Louis after, for a four-game series, including a Saturday doubleheader. With eight games to be played in seven days, it’s going to be a real test for the Reds this week.

Up Next: at Marlins (4 games); atCardinals (4 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 55-75

Their series sweep against the Reds did a lot to help the Pirates this past week. They started out with a four-game series against the Nationals, where they won a single game (and lost by some very crooked numbers on two others), before sweeping the Reds in three. Overall their four-win was one of the better in the whole N.L. Central.

Now they’ll be on the road, taking on the Phillies, who are 6-4 over their last 10 and have a strong 38-28 record at home. They’ll then head to Colorado to take on the Rockies in a four-game weekend series. The Rockies are currently dead-last in the NL West, and their 33-29 home record isn’t quite as daunting as the Phillies.

Up Next: at Phillies (3 games); at Rockies (4 games)