Central Intelligence

Week 1: Brew Crew and Bucs off to fast starts

nl central standings

Power Rankings Week 1

1. St. Louis Cardinals (last week: 1): 3-3, 3rd Place, 1.0 GB, 17 RS, 22 RA (-5)

The Cardinals got off to a great start to the season, taking two of three from the Reds in Cincinnati. They did however struggle this weekend in Pittsburgh, dropping two of three. The Cardinals pitching has been good, especially Wainwright, Wacha, and Kelly.

The offense however has really struggled.  Their team NL offense ranks: 17 runs (11th), .200 AVG (13th), .281 OBP (11th), and .333 SLG (12th).  In 2013, the Cardinals set the record for the highest average with RISP, by hitting an astounding .333 with RISP. Those numbers have come crashing back to earth in the first week of 2014, as the Cards are hitting a measly .147/.217/.171 with RISP (41 AB).

In my mind, the Cardinals are still the clear-cut best team in the NL Central. Their pitching has been great and when their bats wake up, the sky is really the limit.

Cardinals Starting Pitchers this week:

NAME IP H ER BB SO WHIP ERA
Adam Wainwright 14.0 8 2 6 16 1.00 1.29
Michael Wacha 6.2 3 0 1 7 0.60 0.00
Joe Kelly 5.1 6 1 4 4 1.88 1.69
Shelby Miller 5.1 6 5 3 2 1.69 8.44
Lance Lynn 5.0 8 3 1 7 1.80 5.40

Who’s Hot

  • Matt Adams: .318/.375/.455, 3 2B
  • Matt Carpenter: .286/.423/.429, 1 HR, 5 BB
  • Adam Wainwright: 14.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 16 K, 1.00 WHIP, 1.29 ERA
  • Michael Wacha: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.60 WHIP, 0.00 ERA

Who’s Cold

  • Allen Craig: .091/.125/.091 (2 for 22)
  • Jhonny Peralta: .095/.174/.381 (3 for 21)
  • Peter Bourjous: .000/.071/.000 (0 for 13)
  • Shelby Miller: 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1.69 WHIP, 8.44 ERA

This Week’s Schedule

  • Mon (4:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) vs. Reds
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) vs. Cubs

2. Milwaukee Brewers (last week: 2): 4-2, 1st Place, 21 RS, 14 RA (+7)

The Brewers started 2014 at home, where they lost two of three to the Braves. The Brewers then went to Fenway Park, where they swept the defending World Series champs.

Ryan Braun is off to shaky start, going just 3 for 20 in his return from his PED suspension. He received a loud, standing ovation in his debut at Miller Park, which was somewhat surprising. However, the Fenway Park crowd let him have it over the weekend with a chorus of boos. Even more concerning to the Brewers than crowd reactions is Braun’s nagging thumb injury that kept him out of the lineup on Saturday. He did return to the lineup on Sunday and went 2 for 4.

Enough of Braun though…..the real story is the Brewers pitching to start 2014. In six games, all of the Brewers starters have gone 5+ innings, allowing 3 runs or fewer. Yovani Gallardo hasn’t allowed a run in two starts (12.2 IP) and in Matt Garza’s only start, he only allowed 1 run in 8.0 IP (including taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning). The Brewers bullpen has only allowed 2 runs in 15.1 IP and has 17 strikeouts, with only 4 walks. The Brewers overall NL pitching ranks: 1.72 ERA (2nd), 0.91 WHIP (1st), 3.43 K/BB (3rd), 9.19 K/9 (2nd).

Brewers Starting Pitchers this week

NAME IP H ER BB SO WHIP ERA
Yovani Gallardo 12 11 0 2 7 1.03 0.00
Matt Garza 8 2 1 1 7 0.38 1.13
Kyle Lohse 7 5 3 2 8 1.00 3.86
Marco Estrada 5.2 4 1 3 6 1.24 1.59
Wily Peralta 5 5 2 2 6 1.40 3.60

Who’s Hot

  • Aramis Ramirez: .440/.440/.480, 6 RBI
  • Carlos Gomez: .320/.393/.560, 2 HR, 1 SB
  • Jonathan Lucroy: .364/.440/.636, 1 HR, 3 2B
  • Khris Davis: .348/.348/.522, 4 2B
  • Yovani Gallardo: 12 IP, 11 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.03 WHIP, 0.00 ERA
  • Matt Garza: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.38 WHIP, 1.13 ERA
  • Will Smith, Brandon Kintzler, & Francisco Rodriguez: 0 ER in 11.0 IP

Who’s Cold

  • Ryan Braun: .150/.190/.150 (3 for 20)

This Week’s Schedule

  • Tues (4:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (7:05) at Phillies
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs. Pirates

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (last week: 3): 4-2, 1st place, 22 RS, 15 RA (+7)

The Pirates have to feel good about their start to 2014. They began the season by taking two of three at home against the Cubs. They then won two out of three from the Cardinals at PNC Park, including a 12-2 win on Friday night.

The Bucs’ pitching has picked up right where it left off last season. Their team 2.38 ERA ranks 5th in the NL and their 1.15 WHIP ranks 4th.  The Pirates starters have been tremendous as they have recorded a quality start of 5 of their 6 games (the only non-QS was Liriano’s 2nd start of the season vs. STL, where he allowed 4 ER in 6.0 IP). The big surprise was former-Red, Edison Volquez’s debut with the Pirates. On Friday night against the Cardinals, Volquez went 7.2 innings, allowing just 1 ER, while striking out 6 and walking just 1.

Pirates Starting Pitchers this week

NAME IP H ER BB SO WHIP ERA
Francisco Liriano 12.0 11 4 5 14 1.33 3.00
Edinson Volquez 7.2 4 1 1 6 0.65 1.17
Gerrit Cole 7.0 6 2 2 3 1.14 2.57
Charlie Morton 6.0 4 0 1 6 0.83 0.00
Wandy Rodriguez 6.0 5 3 1 5 1.00 4.50

Who’s Hot

  • Starling Marte: .308/.400/.423, 1 2B, 1 3B
  • Edinson Volquez: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1.17 WHIP, 0.65 ERA
  • Charlie Morton: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.83 WHIP, 0.00 ERA
  • Tony Watson: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.30 WHIP, 0.00 ERA

Who’s Cold

  • Jordy Mercer: .158/.273/.158 (3 for 19)
  • Russell Martin: .176/.300/.176 (3 for 17)

This Week’s Schedule

  • Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (2:20) at Cubs
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) at Brewers

4. Cincinnati Reds (last week: 4)2-4, 4th place, 15 RS, 19 RA (-4)

The Reds have gotten off to a rough start. They lost two of three at home to the Cardinals to open the season and then dropped two of three in New York to the lowly Mets (a team that was 0-3 before playing the Reds).

Like the Cardinals, the Reds offense has been painful to watch. The Reds have scored 0, 1, 6, 3, 3, 2 runs in their six games (strangely enough their three highest run outputs have all been losses). Their team offense NL ranks are .204 AVG (12th), .285 OBP (10th), and .329 SLG (13th). The Reds have had two major holes in their lineup, yet to get a hit in 2014: Zack Cozart (0 for 19) and Billy Hamilton (0 for 12). Those two players have reached base just a combined 1 time in 33 trips to the plate (.000 AVG, .030 OBP).

The Reds starting pitching has been a bright spot. Cueto, Cingrani, and Simon have combined to allow 4 ER in 4 starts for the Reds (28.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 32 K, 7 BB). The Reds bullpen has been very good with the exception of J.J. Hoover (who allowed a walk-off grand slam to Ike Davis on Saturday) and Trevor Bell (his ERA is infinite). The Reds bullpen minus Hoover and Bell hasn’t allowed a run in 11.2 IP (0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP).

Reds Starting Pitchers this week

NAME IP H ER BB SO WHIP ERA
Johnny Cueto 14.0 8 3 4 17 0.86 1.93
Tony Cingrani 7.0 2 0 2 9 0.57 0.00
Alfredo Simon 7.0 4 1 1 6 0.71 1.29
Mike Leake 6.2 5 4 3 3 1.20 5.40
Homer Bailey 4.1 7 4 3 3 2.31 8.31

Who’s Hot

  • Todd Frazier: .381/.480/.667, 2 HR, 4 RBI
  • Ryan Ludwick: .316/.350/.474, 1 HR
  • Tony Cingrani: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0.57 WHIP, 0.00 ERA
  • Alfredo Simon: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.71 WHIP, 1.29 ERA
  • Johnny Cueto: 14.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 17 K, 0.86 WHIP, 1.93 ERA
  • Manny Parra: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.86 WHIP, 0.00 ERA

Who’s Cold

  • Zack Cozart: .000/.000/.000 (0 for 19)
  • Billy Hamilton: .000/.077/.000 (0 for 12), 0 for 1 on SB attempts
  • J.J. Hoover: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 3.00 WHIP, 27.00 ERA
  • Homer Bailey: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2.31 WHIP, 8.31 ERA

This Week’s Schedule

  • Mon (4:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) at St. Louis
  • Fri (7:10), Sat (1:10), Sun (1:10) vs. Tampa Bay

5. Chicago Cubs (last week: 5): 2-4, 4th place, 16 RS, 19 RA (-3)

The Cubs stared 2014 with some tough losses, dropping the first game of the season 1-0 to the Pirates in 10 innings and then the next night lost 4-3 to the Pirates in 16 innings. They’ve dropped two of three to both the Pirates and Phillies.

The Cubs pitching has been pretty good, posting a 2.45 ERA (5th in the NL)  and a 1.17 WHIP (6th in the NL). The starters have been really good, posting a quality start in 4 of the 6 games, with the other two starts both being 5.0 innings of 1 ER. Samardzija and Hammel have combined to allow just 3 ER in 20.2 IP.

The offense however for the Cubs has been a nightmare. Prior to Sunday, the Cubs had scored a grand total of 8 runs in 5 games. They did however double that output, beating the Phillies 8-3. Sweeney, Olt, Ruggiano and Barney have combined to go 3 for 49 (.061 AVG).

Cubs Starting Pitchers this week

NAME IP H ER BB SO WHIP ERA
Jeff Samardzija 14.0 11 2 5 11 1.14 1.29
Jason Hammel 6.2 2 1 1 5 0.45 1.35
Travis Wood 6.1 6 3 1 8 1.11 4.26
Carlos Villanueva 6.1 10 3 0 4 1.58 4.26
Edwin Jackson 5.1 2 1 4 5 1.13 1.69

Who’s Hot

  • Emilio Bonifacio: .500/.548/.571, 4 SB
  • Junior Lake: .294/.368/.412, 2 2B
  • Jason Hammel: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0.45 WHIP, 1.35 ERA
  • Jeff Samardzija: 14.0 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 1.14 WHIP, 1.29 ERA
  • Rondon, Grimm, and Strop: 0 ER in 11.0 IP, 0.91 WHIP, 4 BB, 11 K

Who’s Cold

  • Jose Veras: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 4.20 ERA, 16.20 ERA

NL Central Player of the Week:

Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs: .500/.548/.571, 4 SB,

NL Central Pitcher of the Week:

Johnny Cueto, Reds: 14.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 17 K, 0.86 WHIP, 1.93 ERA

 

11 thoughts on “Week 1: Brew Crew and Bucs off to fast starts

  1. I think the NL Central (and all of NL) pitcher of the week has to go to Gallardo no? Two shutouts against the Braves and Red Sox …

    Thanks for the recaps. Agree w/ you on your rankings from 1-5 and hope to see a turnaround from this team this week.

    • I was going to get with Gallardo at first, but after looking more closely I chose Cueto. Gallardo allowed 11 hits in 12 innings, and only went 6.0 in both of his starts. Cueto also struck out 17 to Gallardo’s 8. Both certainly worthy, I just went with the guy who I felt was more dominant.

  2. I don’t have much to add this week, but just want to say thanks for breaking down the division. By mid-summer, when my schedule is to busy for me to personally keep up with all the doings in the central, this will be a great piece to open on Monday mornings. Cheers!

  3. I hope you served that NL Central Player-of-the-Week award with a side of Tums for the Old Cossack and a side a salve for me. Jocketty had a chance to bring Bonifacio on board with a team friendly contract, and said, “no thanks”.
    The scary thing about the Pirates is when they bring up Gregory Polanco to play RF. This kid is the real deal. I watched him play at the A level in 2012 and he has it all.
    A Pirate outfield of Marte, McCutcheon, and Polanco is going to be very formidable. The Pirates TV crew last year was saying how Marte is a better CF than McCutcheon actually is, and that Polanco is a better OF than both of them.
    I am not saying this kid is Roberto Clemente, but he will remind many fans of Clemente when he starts roaming RF for the Pirates.
    And they have the SP Jameson Taillon waiting in the wings, the #1 or #2 overal pick a few years ago.
    The Reds have to keep pace.

  4. Bonifacio is Mr. April. Check in again by mid-June and you’ll get the typical mediocre numbers,

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