We are one week into the 2016 season, and every team in the NL Central is .500 or better. The surprising Cincinnati Reds are tied at first with a 5-1 record. They swept the lowly Phillies, and then took two of three against the Pirates over the weekend. The Cubs are also off to a 5-1 start and tied for first, but they have already suffered a key injury.
The Pirates swept the Cardinals to begin the season. The Cardinals recovered by sweeping the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend. The Brewers surprisingly took two of three over the weekend against the Astros.
|Pittsburgh Pirates||4-2||1.0 GB|
|Milwaukee Brewers||3-3||2.0 GB|
|St. Louis Cardinals||3-3||2.0 GB|
The high expectations haven’t been a problem for the Cubs early in 2016. The Cubs began the season by sweeping a short two game series is Los Angeles against the Angels. The Cubs outscored the Angels 15-1 in the two games. The Cubs then went into Arizona and won three of four against the Diamondbacks.
The Cubs suffered a major blow on Friday night. Kyle Schwarber will miss the entire 2016 season after suffering a complete tear of the ACL and LCL is his left knee. Schwarber collided with Dexter Fowler going for a fly ball in Arizona. Schwarber was projected hit 32 home runs in 2016. The Cubs entered 2016 with good depth, and it will best tested right from the beginning of the season.
Last year’s Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta is off to a strong start. Through his first two starts, he has a 1.93 ERA (14.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 12 K).
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Dexter Fowler: .526/.625/.895, 1 HR, 7 R, 281 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jorge Soler: .118/.167/.118, 2 for 18, 5 K, -19 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR
- Mon (8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (8:05) vs Reds
- Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (2:20) vs Rockies
The Brewers got off to a rough start to 2016. They lost 12-3 to the Giants in front of their home fans on opening day. Then, Johnny Cueto dominated the Brewers in the second game of the series, but the Brewers were able to win the final game against the Giants. The Brewers were then able to take two of three over the weekend against the Astros.
Scooter Gennett is off to a big start for the Brewers. He has already hit three home runs on the young season. Gennett figured to be a big part of the Brewers last season, but struggled last year (.675 OPS).
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Scooter Gennett: .412/.524/.941, 3 HR, 259 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Wily Peralta: 10.80 ERA, 8.75 FIP, 8.1 IP, 6 BB, 6 K, -0.2 fWAR
- Mon (4:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) at Cardinals
- Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) at Pirates
The Pirates started the season off with a bang by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates pitching dominated the series, and they got two great starts from Francisco Liriano (6.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 5 BB, 10 K) and Juan Nicasio (6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K).
The Pirates won their fourth straight game to start 2016 by coming back from an early deficit to beat the Reds on Friday. Starling Marte hit a grand slam in the 8th inning to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. The Pirates would however lose the final two games of the series. The Reds pitching held the Pirates to just two runs over the final two games.
The Pirates outfield is off to a hot start. McCutchen (119 wRC+), Polanco (192 wRC+), and Marte (117 wRC+) look to be one of the best outfield trios in baseball this season.
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Gregory Polanco: .357/.545/.571, 4 R, 183 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Josh Harrison: .250/.238/.250, 5 for 20, 31 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR
- Mon (1:10), Tues (1:10) at Tigers
- Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) vs Tigers
- Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) vs Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals didn’t start 2016 off the way they would have liked. They were swept by the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals scored just two runs in the first and third game of the series. The Cardinals then went down to Atlanta and swept the Braves. The Cardinals offense came alive in the series. They scored 31 runs in the three games.
The Cardinals offense has come from some unlikely sources. Going into Sunday their six home runs had come from Jeremy Hazelbaker (2), Aledmys Diaz, Greg Garcia, and Stephen Piscotty.
Adam Wainwright is off to a slow start to 2016. Wainwright has a 6.65 ERA over his first two starts, including allowing 5 ER on Sunday against the Braves. He is coming back from an Achilles tendon rupture that cost him most of 2015.
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jeremy Hazelbaker: .400/.417/1.000, 2 HR, 1 SB, 254 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Mike Leake: 8.31 ERA, 5.66 FIP, 4.1 IP, 3 BB, 1 K, 0.0 fWAR
- Mon (4:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) vs Brewers
- Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) vs Reds
Nick’s Power Rankings
Pittsburgh Pirates ↑1
St. Louis Cardinals ↓1
Players of the Week
Pitcher: Raisel Iglesias, Reds: 11.2 IP, 2.31 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 2 BB, 12 K, 0.3 fWAR
Batter: Dexter Fowler, Cubs: .526/.625/.895, 1 HR, 7 R, 281 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
Most statistics only include games played through 4/9/16, 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.