Central Intelligence

Week 4: Cubs keep rolling, Cardinals fall below .500

The Cubs continue to hold the top spot in the NL Central, but the Pirates are starting to heat up. The Cardinals are now below .500 at 12-13, and there is cause for concern in St. Louis. The Reds and Brewers are looking more and more like the rebuilding teams that they are.

Chicago Cubs 17-6
Pittsburgh Pirates 15-10 3.0 GB
St. Louis Cardinals 12-13 6.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 10-15 8.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 9-15 8.5 GB

Chicago Cubs


The Cubs had two games postponed this past week, but went 3-1 in the games that were played. They continue to comfortably lead the NL Central. The Cubs +78 run differential is 30 (!) runs better than anyone else in baseball.

Despite his recent struggles, Dexter Fowler still leads all MLB players in fWAR (2.0). Jake Arrieta showed he was human this week against the Brewers (5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K), but he still has a 1.00 ERA so far on the season.

The Cubs got a scare early in the week. Kris Bryant sprained his ankle on Thursday against the Brewers. Bryant missed a couple games, but was back in the lineup on Sunday. Bryant went 1 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. The Cubs also recently lost Miguel Montero to the DL.

The Cubs will have a challenging upcoming week. They’ll play a three game series in Pittsburgh to begin the week, and then host a big four game series at home against the first place Washington Nationals. That should be an exciting series at Wrigley Field.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Anthony Rizzo: .385/.556/1.000, 2 HR, 282 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Dexter Fowler: .100/.286/.100, 1 for 10, 23 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (12:25) at Pirates
  • Thurs (8:05), Fri (2:20), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:20) vs Nationals

Milwaukee Brewers


The Brewers have lost 4 of 5, and 7 of 9.  Their -39 run differential is the third worst in baseball, only trailing the Braves (-46) and Reds (-52).

The Brewers pitching has been a disaster. Their team 5.68 ERA is the worst in the MLB. Jimmy Nelson has been the only decent starter for the Brewers (3.16 ERA). Wily Peralta (7.40 ERA), Taylor Jungmann (9.15 ERA), and Chase Anderson (5.55 ERA) have all started off rough.

The Brewers had to place Scooter Gennett on the DL because of oblique tightness. It’s a real shame too because Gennett was off to a great start to 2016 (.258/.361/.516, 4 HR, 126 wRC+).

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jonathan Lucroy: .308/.438/.462, 2 R, 139 wRC+, 0.1 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Aaron Hill: .143/.176/.214, 2 for 14, -9 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:20), Tues (8:10), Wed (1:40) vs Angels
  • Thurs (7:10), Fri (7:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (1:10) at Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates


The Pirates had won six straight games before they lost in 11 innings to the Reds on Sunday. They are 8-1 in their last 9 games.

The Pirates offense continues to rake.  They lead the MLB in team wRC+ (123) and fWAR (7.3). All 8 of the Pirates starting position players, plus their 3 most used bench players have a wRC+ of 117 or better. There are literally no holes in the Pirates lineup right now. Matt Joyce (3 HR, 235 wRC+) and Sean Rodriguez (4 HR, 222 wRC+) have really been tremendous off the bench for the Pirates.

The Pirates have a big upcoming week. They host the Cubs for three games before traveling to St. Louis for three game weekend series with the Cardinals.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Juan Nicasio: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Neftali Feliz: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 13.50 ERA, 8.30 FIP, -0.2 fWAR

This Week

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (12:35) vs Cubs
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) at Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have lost four straight games, including getting swept at home over the weekend by the Nationals. The Cardinals offense is third the MLB in wRC+ (120), but they have struggled during their losing streak. The Cardinals scored 0, 4, 1, and 1 runs during their four game losing skid.

Adam Wainwright (7.16 ERA/5.22 FIP) and Mike Leake (5.83 ERA/4.66 FIP) have really struggled in the Cardinals rotation. They’ll need those guys to get going if they want any chance of catching the Cubs.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Carlos Martinez: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 0.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Randal Grichuk: .182/.174/.318, 4 for 22, 6 K, 18 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) vs Phillies
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) vs Pirates

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. Chicago Cubs

  2. Pittsburgh Pirates ↑1

  3. St. Louis Cardinals ↓1

  4. Cincinnati Reds

  5. Milwaukee Brewers

Players of the Week

Pitcher: Juan Nicasio, Pirates: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 1.20 FIP, 0.3 fWAR

Batter: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: .385/.556/1.000, 2 HR, 282 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR


All statistics only include games played through 4/30/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). 

13 thoughts on “Week 4: Cubs keep rolling, Cardinals fall below .500

  1. Isn’t the power rankings basically the same thing as win – loss record? I have always wondered about that.

    • Not always so. I had the Reds #4 in week 1 even though they were in first place. There were several weeks last year where I had the Cubs ranked #2 even though they were in third place.

  2. The Reds and Pirates are even steven 3-3 after home and home series.

    The Pirates appear to have righted themselves; but, I think their relative performance versus the Reds underscores that as of now they are nowhere near being in the same league as the Cubs and Metz.

    • We will kill Brewers starters and they will kill the Reds Bullpen. I see extra innings in every game. It will be like a bad accident where your mom tells you not to look kids and you do anyways. We will all have nightmares.

      • I don’t know? We haven’t killed any starters except Lackey and that was 1 inning! Votto/Mes aren’t driving the ball, Suarez/Duvall cooled off, BP shouldn’t be at cleanup, etc, etc

  3. Stupid Cubs may just have it all together this year. Not-so-secretly happy to watch the Birds flounder (I know, it’s still very early).

  4. The Reds played OK against the Mets. It was just that our bullpen failed when their bullpen worked. This could be a repeating message for the foreseeable future.

    The Cubs beat the Reds particularly badly. It’s still early, but if you take out all the runs given up and runs NOT scored with the Cubs games, the Reds don’t look too bad. But you can’t pretend that those games were never played. Like that 16-0 no hitter. The worse single game loss I think I have ever seen the Reds suffer.

    The stats from the games where they played the Reds has also helped make the Cubs look bigger than they are. Like big grizzlies instead of the North side teddy bears.

  5. What would the Reds record be if their bullpen didn’t blow every game? Anybody?

    • yes. no matter how many games the Reds lose, if the Cards lose more, it will take much of the sting out if the Reds situation

  6. Witching hour is upon us. clubhouses opening. daily media briefing with Price looms. Could be an interesting one with all the injuries

  7. Bryant back after that scare. Man it must be good to be young… Tough break about Montero, especially with Schwarber out.

    Too bad Gennett got hurt. He’s local and you also have to like a guy who goes by Scooter. He’s easy to root for.

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