There are now only five weeks left in the baseball season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have won 5 of 6, and 13 of their last 17 games. They still however trail the Cardinals by 4.5 games in the NL Central. The two teams will square off for a huge three game series next weekend in St. Louis.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter on Sunday, but the Cubs have lost 4 of 5, and have fallen out of the NL Central race. The Cubs still look good in the wild-card race at the moment, but the defending champion San Francisco Giants are 5.5 games back. The young Cubs will tested over the final five weeks of the season.
|St. Louis Cardinals||84-46||–|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||79-50||4.5 GB|
|Chicago Cubs||74-55||9.5 GB|
|Milwaukee Brewers||55-75||29.0 GB|
|Cincinnati Reds||53-76||30.5 GB|
Jake Arrieta threw the sixth no-hitter of the season on Sunday night at Dodgers Stadium. Arrieta gave an all-time great performance, as he walked only one batter, and stuck out 12. Arrieta now has a 2.11 ERA after his no-hitter, which puts him only behind Zack Greinke’s 1.61 ERA for the MLB lead. Arrieta will have a tough time beating out either of the Dodgers starters Greinke or Kershaw for the Cy Young, but he certainly deserves to be in the conversation.
Sunday night’s no-hitter might have also sealed Arrieta as the Cubs starter in the wild-card game over Jon Lester. The best decision would probably be to start Arrieta, but have Lester available in the pen.
The Cubs might be struggling a bit of late, but the big one-two punch of Rizzo and Bryant is as strong as ever. The two players each have identical 4.7 fWAR, which puts them tied for 15th in the MLB. Bryant is tied for 3rd in the MLB in August with a 1.7 fWAR.
Javier Baez is expected to be one of the Cubs’ September call-ups on Tuesday.
The Cubs traded for reliever Fernando Rodney from the Mariners. Rodney has struggled in 2015 (5.57 ERA, 5.27 FIP), but maybe a fresh start can get Rodney back to the pitcher who had a 2.21 ERA between 2012-2014.
The Cubs also picked up Emilo Bonifacio off waivers from the White Sox, and sent him to AAA He could join the Cubs with the September call-ups.
Who’s Hot (August stats): Kris Bryant: .326/.421/.609, 6 HR, 2 SB, 183 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
Who’s Cold (August stats): Dan Haren: 5 GS, 6.31 ERA, 6.31 FIP, -0.4 fWAR
- Mon (8:05), Tues (8:05), Wed (2:20) vs Reds
- Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (2:20) vs Diamondbacks
The Brewers continue to fight with the Reds for not only fourth place in the NL Central, but also for a potential number one draft pick in 2015. The Brewers took 2 of 3 from the Reds over the weekend, and are now 1.5 games ahead of them in fourth place in the NL Central. The Brewers are however 3.5 games behind the Marlins and Phillies for the #1 draft pick.
Taylor Jungmann is one of the few bright spots looking towards the future for the Brewers. The 12th overall pick from back in 2011 has a 2.48 ERA and 2.97 FIP through his 15 MLB starts. He has only allowed 3 HR in 90.2 IP. Jungmann’s 1.3 fWAR in the second half is tied with Jon Lester for the 13th best in baseball.
Who’s Hot (August stats): Taylor Jungmann: 5 GS, 3.12 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 10.38 K/9, 0.8 fWAR
Who’s Cold (August stats): Jean Segura: .250/.262/.280, 42 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR
- Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (7:20) vs Pirates
- Fri (7:10), Sat (1:10), Sun (1:10) at Reds
The Pirates just keep the wins coming, and Andrew McCutchen is making a strong push to win his second MVP trophy. He is 5th in the NL in fWAR (5.4), but the four guys in front of him (Harper, Goldschmidt, Votto, and Pollack) all play for teams who likely will miss the postseason. McCutchen is hitting .305/.406/.522 on the season.
The Pirates will have a huge series in St. Louis next weekend. The Pirates simply have to win this series. Think of it this way: the Pirates have six games left against the Cardinals…..if they win 5 of 6 against the Cardinals, they could lose as many games as the Cardinals do the rest of the way and end the season tied (the Pirates play one more game than the Cardinals).
Who’s Hot (August stats): Andrew McCutchen: .352/.478/.625, 5 HR, 2 SB, 197 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
Who’s Cold (August stats): Jeff Locke: 5 GS, 5.46 ERA, 5.65 FIP, 1.93 HR/9, -0.2 fWAR
- Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (7:20) at Brewers
- Fri (8:15), Sat (4:05), Sun (8:05) at Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals seem to have a motto of “next guy up,” and Stephen Piscotty is a perfect example of that. The 36th overall pick from 2012 has been better in the majors this season (.344/.373/.615, 159 wRC+) than in the minors (.272/.366/.475, 125 wRC+). He seems to have taken the role of filling in for the injured Matt Holliday to heart.
The Cardinals are hoping to get a bunch of injured OF back for the postseason. Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, and Randall Grichuk have all began rehabbing in some capacity. Matt Adams has also started the rehab process. These guys were all supposed to back sooner for the Cardinals, and it will be interesting to see who sees what playing time when/if they come back. In August, Mark Reynolds (119 wRC+), Brandon Moss (96 wRC+), Tommy Pham (136 wRC+), and Piscotty (168 wRC+) have allowed played well in those guys spots. If anything the Cardinals should have a really great bench in the postseason.
Who’s Hot (August stats): Stephen Piscotty: 344/.373/.615, 4 HR, 1 SB, 168 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (August stats): Kolten Wong: .189/.247/.244, 38 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR
- Mon (8:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15) vs Nationals
- Fri (8:15), Sat (4:05), Sun (8:05) vs Pirates
Nick’s Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers (up 1)
Cincinnati Reds (down 1)
Players of the Week
Pitcher: J.A. Happ, Pirates: 11.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 0.77 ERA, 2.26 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
Batter: Stephen Piscoty, Cardinals: .500/.556/1.000, 2 HR, 319 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
All statistics include games played through 8/29/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).