I am back covering the NL Central after a week off. I hope you can excuse me for missing last week, but I feel like getting married is a pretty decent excuse. Thanks to Steve for his very kind congratulatory post, and for all those who sent their best wishes. Our old friend Richard Fitch said it best, I really out-kicked my coverage here (and she even likes baseball too!). Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the occasion.
Anyway, back to baseball. This week I’ll cover the happenings of the NL Central over the last two weeks. The Cubs just continue to run away with the NL Central. The Cubs have won 10 of their last 12 games, and still have the best record in baseball at 39-16 (next best is the Giants at 35-24). The Pirates and Cardinals have continued to play around .500 for the past month or so. Both teams are right in the middle of the wild-card race. The Reds and Brewers are well out of the race, but the Reds have won 4 of their last 5, and the Brewers have won 3 of their last 5 games.
|Pittsburgh Pirates||30-26||9.5 GB|
|St. Louis Cardinals||30-27||10.0 GB|
|Milwaukee Brewers||26-31||14.0 GB|
|Cincinnati Reds||21-36||19.0 GB|
Dexter Fowler (3.3 fWAR) and Ben Zobrist (2.8 fWAR) have the two highest wins above replacement numbers in the NL. Kris Bryant is also tied for the 4th highest fWAR in the NL at 2.5. All of these guys could be NL MVP candidates, although that Kershaw guy just might run away with the thing.
The Cubs rotation has just been absolutely unbelievable: Jake Arrieta (1.56 ERA/2.72 FIP), John Lackey (2.88 ERA/3.19 FIP), Kyle Hendricks (2.84 ERA/2.93 FIP), Jon Lester (2.29 ERA/3.22 FIP), and Jason Hammel (2.14 ERA/3.41 FIP). The last team who had 5 starters with an ERA under 3.00 was the 1942 Detroit Tigers (Baseball-Refernce Play Index search).
The Cubs have a team SP ERA of 2.33, which is by far the best in baseball. The next best is the Nationals at 3.17. That 2.33 ERA is the best team SP ERA since 1919.
Who’s Hot (last 14 days): Jon Lester: 15.1 IP, 2 BB, 17 K, 1.17 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.6 FIP
Who’s Cold (last 14 days): Addison Russell: .244/.277/.267, 11 for 47, 17 K, 47 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR
- Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (1:05) at Phillies
- Fri (7:35), Sat (4:10), Sun (1:35) at Braves
The biggest day of the season for the Milwaukee Brewers just might be Thursday. The Brewers will pick #5 in the MLB draft. Baseball America has the Brewers taking RHP Riley Pint, a high school player out of Kansas.
Following the MLB Draft, the Brewers will probably begin to look at potential trades. Ryan Braun will likely be the hottest name during trade deadline rumors. The Brewers will have lots of other potential trade pieces in Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter. It will be interesting to see just how far the Brewers want to dive into the rebuilding process.
Who’s Hot (last 14 days): Jonathan Villar: .375/.467/.667, 4 HR, 6 SB, 193 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 14 days): Chris Carter: .146/.222/.229, 7 for 48, 16 K, 18 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR
- Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10) vs Athletics
- Thurs (8:10), Fri (8:10), Sat (4:10), Sun (2:10) vs Mets
The Pirates are going to have to some big decisions to make. They have three top pitching prospects (Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, and Chad Kuhl) all ready for the the big leagues. Walter Villa of the The Sports Exchange broke down the Pirates upcoming decisions, which they will likely make after the Super 2 Deadline passes this month.
The Pirates rotation outside of Gerrit Cole (2.72 ERA/3.12 FIP) has really struggled. The Pirates starters have an ERA of 4.20, which is the 14th best in the MLB. Francisco Liriano has been the biggest disappointment, as he has a 5.25 ERA/5.65 FIP.
The Pirates had a slew of injuries this past week. They had FIVE starting position players exit a game in a series in Miami: McCutchen, Polanco, Freese, Cervelli, and Mercer. McCutchen, Polanco, and Mercer were all back in the lineup this past weekend against the Angels (although McCutchen was given the day off yesterday for extra rest for his swollen thumb). Freese and Cervelli did not start in the series this past weekend, but have yet to be placed on the DL.
The Pirates have a very interesting week coming up. They play three games at home against the Mets, and then they have to travel all the way to Denver for a makeup game on Thursday. Then come right back for a three game series against the Cardinals.
Who’s Hot (last 14 days): Gregory Polanco: .341/.364/.683, 4 HR, 2 SB, 175 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jordy Mercer: .128/.209/.179, 5 for 39, 7 K, 11 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR
- Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) vs Mets
- Thurs (5:10) at Rockies
- Fri (7:05), Sat (7:15), Sun (5:05) vs Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are usually the epitome of a team that gets lucky, but that is not the case with their presumed top two starters. Adam Wainwright has an ERA of 5.40, yet has a FIP of 4.17. Michael Wacha has had even worse luck, as he has an ERA of 5.16, yet has a FIP of 3.53. The Cardinals starters have an ERA of 4.34, which is 17th in the MLB.
The Cardinals plan on activating Jhonny Peralta on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that they will keep the hot hitting Aledmys Diaz at SS, put Peralta at 3B, and move Matt Carpenter from 3B to 2B for the majority of the time (Carpenter can also play 1B). That puts Kolten Wong out of a job, which means he could get sent down to AAA to get some regular AB. Wong signed a 5-year, $25.5 million contract extension this spring, but has hit just .226/.310/.290 this season.
Who’s Hot (last 14 days): Matt Adams: .382/.436/.794, 3 HR, 222 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 14 days): Yadier Molina: .049/.130/.049, 2 for 41, 7 K, -49 wRC+, -0.7 fWAR
- Tues (7:10), Wed (7:10), Thurs (7:10) at Reds
- Fri (7:05), Sat (7:15), Sat (5:05) at Pirates
Nick’s Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals
(all teams stayed the same)
Players of the Week
Pitcher: Zack Davies, Brewers: 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 9 K, 0.87 FIP, 0.5 fWAR
Batter: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: .550/.560/.950, 1 HR, 1 SB, 273 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
All statistics only include games played through 6/4/16, 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.