The NL Central will have three teams in the postseason in 2015, after both the Pirates and Cubs joined the Cardinals in clinching a postseason berth. The NL Central will once again have two teams meet in the wild-card game. Since the wild-card game began in 2012, 6 of the 8 teams that will have played in the NL WC game are from the NL Central.
The Cubs have officially been eliminated from the NL Central race, so they are locked into the wild-card game. They are 4.5 games behind the Pirates, so they will most definitely be playing that game on the road. The Pirates still have a shot at the NL Central. They are currently 3.0 games behind the Cardinals, and play three games starting today at home against the Cardinals. They would need to sweep the Cardinals to have a decent shot at winning their first ever NL Central title.
|St. Louis Cardinals*||98-58||–|
|Pittsburgh Pirates*||95-61||3.0 GB|
|Chicago Cubs*||90-65||7.5 GB (E)|
|Milwaukee Brewers||66-90||32.0 GB (E)|
|Cincinnati Reds||63-92||34.5 GB (E)|
*clinched playoff berth
The Cubs may have lost 2 of 3 at home to the Pirates over the weekend, but they clinched their first trip to the postseason since 2008. The Cubs are locked into the wild-card game, and they will most definitely go with Jake Arrieta in that game. The Cubs would have to feel good about their chances if they played the Pirates with Arrieta on the mound. On Sunday night, Arrieta retired the first 18 Pirates batters he faced, and overall allowed just 1 hit, 0 walks, and struck out 9 in 7.0 innings.
Who’s Hot (September stats): Starlin Castro: .400/.433/.709, 4 HR, 207 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
Who’s Cold (September stats): Austin Jackson: .196/.250/.286, 45 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR
- Mon (8:05) vs Royals
- Tues (7:10), Wed (7:10), Thurs (12:35) at Reds
- Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (3:10) at Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers would just like to make it to the end of the season without any more injuries. The Brewers lost two starting pitchers, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson for the rest the season. Peralta suffered an oblique injury, and his shut down was probably just more precautionary than anything else. Nelson was however struck in the head on a line drive by the Cardinals’ Thomas Pham. He suffered a concussion, but his shut down also appears to be more precautionary.
Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers lineup over the weekend, but he will need offseason surgery on his back.
The Brewers are tied with the Rockies for the 5th worst record in the MLB, so that is something to watch over the last week of the season in terms of draft position next year.
Who’s Hot (September stats): Jason Rodgers: .475/.543/.625, 1 HR, 221 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
Who’s Cold (September stats): Taylor Jungmann: 5 GS, 7.71 ERA, 6.50 FIP, -0.3 fWAR
- Tues (10:10), Wed (10:10), Thurs (6:40) at Padres
- Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (3:10) vs Cubs
The Pirates clinched their third consecutive trip to postseason this week. The Pirates are still holding out hope for an NL Central title. Their only real shot would be to sweep the Cardinals at PNC Park on Monday-Wednesday. If the Pirates were able to pull off the sweep, that would leave them tied with the Cardinals with three games to play.
If the Pirates and Cardinals end the season tied, the Pirates would host the Cardinals for a one-game playoff for the division (the two teams are 8-8 vs each other so far in 2015, but the Pirates would obviously have to win the series vs the Cardinals to catch them). The winner would take the NL Central, and move on to the NLDS. The loser would host the Cubs in the wild-card game.
Who’s Hot (September stats): Starling Marte: .341/.371/.505, 3 HR, 141 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR
Who’s Cold (September stats): Gregory Polanco: .200/.248/.305, 53 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR
- Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) vs Cardinals
- Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (3:05) vs Reds
St. Louis Cardinals
Another week, another serious injury for the St. Louis Cardinals. Carlos Martinez has a strained shoulder, and is now ruled out for the remainder of the season. Martinez had a 3.01 ERA and 3.23 FIP in 29 starts this season. He will be a major loss for the Cardinals postseason rotation.
Adam Wainwright threw a simulated game on Saturday. It’s looking more and more like Wainwright will pull off a miracle return in 2015. Wainwright would go to the bullpen for the Cardinals should he return. There is no word yet on Yadier Molina’s status for the remainder of the season, although he was very optimistic about returning.
For the Cardinals, they just need to make sure they don’t get swept by the Pirates. If they can avoid that, they will at least enter the weekend up 2.0 games with 3 games to play. If the Cardinals are able to clinch the NLC this week, it would be their third consecutive NL Central title.
Who’s Hot (September stats): Thomas Pham: .321/.361/.679, 4 HR, 177 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR
Who’s Cold (September stats): Jhonny Peralta: .247/.306/.312, 70 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR
- Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) at Pirates
- Fri (7:35), Sat (7:10), Sun (3:05) at Braves
Nick’s Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates (up 1)
Chicago Cubs (down 1)
Players of the Week
Pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Cubs: CG, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K, 1.04 FIP, 0.5 fWAR
Batter: Starling Marte, Pirates: .471/.486/.735, 2 HR, 2 SB, 0.8 fWAR
All statistics include games played through 9/26/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).