It was starting to look like the St. Louis Cardinals were running away with the NL Central last week. The Cardinals had a six game lead in the division with just 26 games to play. That has all changed in just one week. The Cardinals have lost 6 of 8, and 8 of their last 11 games to open the door for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates have won 6 of their last 7 games, and are now just 2.5 games back in the NL Central. There could be a really fantastic finish in the NL Central over the final three weeks of the season.

St. Louis Cardinals 89-54
Pittsburgh Pirates 86-56 2.5 GB
Chicago Cubs 82-60 6.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 62-81 27.0 GB (E)
Cincinnati Reds 60-82 28.5 GB (E)

Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They haven’t officially clinched, but they are up 7.5 games on the San Francisco Giants with just 20 games to play. The Cubs magic number is 13. The Cubs have reached a 100% chance or making the playoffs according to Fangraphs.

Last week, we discusses the concerns over Kyle Schwarber and his injured rib cage. Schwarber put those worries to rest on Friday night in Philadelphia. Schwarber hit two absolute bombs on Friday night. He did however slip on first-base, which his teammates definitely enjoyed.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:35), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) at Pirates
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (1:05), Sun (2:20) vs Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers

Francisco-Rodriguez-Milwaukee-Brewers

The Brewers were officially eliminated from the postseason with a loss on Sunday. The Brewers have lost 5 of 6, and are now feeling the heat of a potential last place finish in the NL Central. The Reds have surprisingly got hot, and are now just 1.5 games behind the Brewers.

The Brewers did something cool this past week when they called up former Reds farm-hand, Nevin Ashley. The catcher, Ashley has spent 10 years in the minors without reaching the majors. Ashley assumed when AAA manager Rick Sweet came to see him after the final game that he was wishing him a good off-season, but instead he was called up. Ashley has gone 1 for 7 for the Brewers.

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) vs Cardinals
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

BurnetrBatman091115-001

Here come the Pirates. They have won 5 of 6, and are right back in the NL Central race.

A.J. Burnett made his return to the Pirates rotation on Thursday. Burnett allowed three runs in 5.0 innings. It was the first time Burnett had pitched since July 30th. The Pirates made a cool gesture for Burnett too, as they put up the bat signal in a building you could see from the stadium

The Pirates will have a very tough week as they try to case the Cardinals. They play four games against the Cubs (including a doubleheader on Tuesday), and three games at the Dodgers.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:35), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) vs Cubs
  • Fri (10:10), Sat (9:10), Sun (4:10) at Dodgers

St. Louis Cardinals

St+Louis+Cardinals+v+Cincinnati+Reds+vg-G8YUkn59l

Injuries just might finally be catching up to the Cardinals. It was just one series, but the Cardinals looked like an exhausted team as they lost 3 of 4 in Cincinnati over the weekend.

The Cardinals third-string catcher, Cody Stanley was suspended for 80 games for a second positive PED testing.

Injury updates: 

  • Matt Adams returned for the Cardinals, but so far he has been limited to pinch-hit duties. He is still not at 100%.
  • Matt Holliday is hoping to return sometime next week.
  • Randal Grichuk also has returned for the Cardinals, but he can not throw. He has been limited to pinch-hit duties mostly, although he did start in CF on Wednesday. He couldn’t throw though, so when a ball was hit to him, he flipped the ball to the rightfielder Jason Heyward to throw into the infield.
  • The Cardinals are also still not ruling out a return for Adam Wainwright, but it would still be a near miracle.

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) at Brewers
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (1:05), Sun (2:20) at Cubs

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

  2. Pittsburgh Pirates

  3. Chicago Cubs

  4. Milwaukee Brewers

  5. Cincinnati Reds

(all teams stayed the same)


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Anthony DeSclafani, Reds: 13.1 IP, 2 R, 0 HR,  16 K, 1 BB, 1.35 ERA, 0.97 FIP, 0.7 fWAR

Batter: Francisco Cervelli, Pirates: .412/.545/.471, 195 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

 

All statistics include games played through 9/12/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). 

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. The Old Cossack is enjoying the developing NLCD playoff race and lamenting the ommision of the Reds from that cat fight. I hope BC is enjoying being left out of the festivities (NOT!) and is taking enough notice to recognize that changes need to be made in the baseball operations to GET! and KEEP! the Reds competitive in the NLCD for the coming decade. Neal Huntington in Pittsburgh and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done an absolutely stunning job of bringing two floundering programs back to elite competitiveness and put them on track for extended runs over the next decade. Those two programs come from opposite ends of the economic spectrum in professional baseball but both programs have been successfu in their transformation into a modern baseball operations organization. Not so much with the Reds’ baseball operations organization.

    • Great points….The Pirates were patient with a GM/Manager duo that appeared to have failed. They embraced some (then) unconventional defensive strategies to overcome financial limitations and had the courage to try something different.

      The Cubs showed a lot of conviction by sticking with their plan in 12′, 13′, 14. They were very open and transparent about what they were doing and never wavered in the face of criticism. They were ruthless in jettisoning Rentiria for Maddon.

      Even the Cardinals, a year removed from a World Championship in 07′, took the risk of blowing up their baseball operation to get better.

      I fear that Bob C. Is afraid to fail…and keeps safe guys like Walt because they do all the “right and conventional” things. The Reds seem afraid of negative PR and short turn fan blacklash. I think Bob C. would rather win 81 games every year, draw 2.3 million and not have any outrage than risk being great.

      • I agree with your whole post except the last paragraph. Everyone, and I mean everyone that I have ever talked to who knows BC perceives him as a highly driven and competitive man. He already had huge business success; no one who deals with him thinks he bought this team for any other reason than to make it great and win the World Series. He may make (and has made) mistakes in running the franchise, but it won’t be because he takes a safe or acceptance-of-mediocrity strategy.

  2. Small Sample Size Observation…

    Since September 7th, the big bats in the NL have been relatively docile (no .900+ OPS among the top 5 bats).

    .854 OPS Harper (down .011 from 1.122 to 1.111)
    .747 OPS Votto (down .013 from 1.027 to 1.014)
    .810 OPS Goldschmidt (down .007 from .992 to .985)
    .767 OPS Rizzo (down .008 from .919 to .911)
    .845 OPS McCutcheon (down .004 from .914 to .910)

    Sometimes, life in the stratosphere, at the end of a long season, can be difficult…

  3. Disco may not be the most talented or highest upside starter (although he also might be), but the Reds will need him to anchor the starting staff next season while the rest of the young starters become accustomed and settle in to their roles as major league starters. Everyone except Disco have work to do and something to prove in 2016. Disco just looks solid heading into 2016.

  4. Like many Reds fans, I would love to see major change in the front office. But Walt deserves credit for acquiring Disco, Suarez, and the four pitchers from KC and SF.

    • You can add Choo and Latos to WJ’s positive accomplishments, but his FA signings, 40-man roster handling and DL handling pretty much makes that a wash. When his adherance to antiquated baseball philosophies is added to the equations, time has passed WJ by and his effectiveness as a GM lays an egg.

  5. I am not sure how the Reds front office works.If Walt makes all the decisions then its an easy fix but I am willing to bet he has surrounded himself with people that think just exactly like he does in regards to building a team.Walt has said more then once he thinks we can compete in 2016.I don’t consider a 70 -75 win team as competing for anything.I am beginning to think more and more like CHUCK SHICK that a 500 team is all that Bob wants.The rest of our division restructured their front office with data driven,forward thinking young people that will take a risk and not always play it safe.We have to do the same and if we don’t a 500 team may be a long time coming

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About Nick Kirby

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

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