The Cubs gained four games in the NL Central, and their chances of winning the division are now up to 99.6% according to Fangraphs. The Cubs are currently riding a seven game winning streak. The Cubs swept the A’s over the weekend, and their pitching was magnificent, allowing just 3 totals runs in the 3-game series.
The division might be out of reach for the Cardinals and Pirates, but they are still right in the wild card hunt. The Cardinals are just 1.0 game out of the second wild-card spot, and the Pirates are 3.0 games back. The Pirates are trying to make it back to the wild card game for a fourth straight season.
|St. Louis Cardinals||58-53||11.5 GB|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||55-54||13.5 GB|
|Milwaukee Brewers||49-60||19.5 GB|
|Cincinnati Reds||45-65||24.0 GB|
Things are going so good for the Cubs that eight players on Thursday decided to use their off-day to unwind at Pebble Beach.
The Cubs were pretty quiet at the deadline, but they did acquire reliever Joe Smith from the Angels. Smith was dominant for the Indians and Angels from 2011-15, posting a 2.51 ERA/3.19 FIP in 359 games (the second most games among relievers during that span). Smith has however struggled in 2016, posting a 3.89 ERA/4.96 FIP in 40 appearances. Smith’s career K/9 is 7.74, but he is just at 5.72 this season.
Jorge Soler returned from the DL on Friday night, and in his return he hit a big three-run home run. Soler will add some nice depth for the Cubs outfield.
- Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05) vs Angels
- Thurs (8:05), Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (8:08) vs Cardinals
We discussed last week how Jonathan Lucroy vetoed his trade to the Indians, but he was out of luck on Monday. The Brewers were able to complete a trade to the Texas Rangers that included Lucroy and closer Jeremy Jeffress. The Brewers got back top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz. Here is a report on the return from Matt Snyder of CBS Sports:
Brinson is a 22-year-old center fielder who Baseball America ranked as the 15th best prospect in baseball before the season started. In 77 games for Double-A Frisco, he’s hitting just .237/.280/.431 with 14 doubles, six triples, 11 homers and 11 steals. Last season, though — between three different levels, mostly Class A-Advanced — he hit .332/.403/.601 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 20 homers and 18 steals. So the talent is clearly there.
As for the aforementioned prospect rankings, Ortiz was 64th. He’s a right-handed pitcher and in 16 appearances between Class A-Advanced and Double-A, he has a 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 62 strikeouts against only 13 walks in 67 1/3 innings.
The Brewers also called up their top prospect, SS Orlando Arcia. He is the #13 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and was the #8 prospect in all of baseball following the 2015 season according to Baseball America. Arcia was hitting just .267/.320/.403 with a 90 wRC+ at AAA, so the promotion does comes as a bit of a surprise.
- Mon (7:20), Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (2:10) vs Braves
- Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Reds
The Pirates were busy at the deadline:
— Francisco Liriano went to the Blue Jays for SP Drew Hutchinson.
— Arquimedes Caminero to the Mariners for a PTBNL.
— Acquired Ivan Nova from the Yankees for two prospects.
— Traded Jon Niese back to the Mets for Antonio Bastardo.
The Pirates also traded Mark Melancon to the Nationals last week for Felipe Rivero, but we already covered that. The Pirates had a much needed series win over the Reds this past weekend. The Pirates are just 9-11 since the all-star break.
- Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) vs Padres
- Fri (10:10), Sat (4:05), Sun (4:10) at Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals lost SS Aledmys Diaz because of a fractured thumb. He will be out several weeks, and that is a major blow to the Cardinals. Diaz was hitting .312/.376/.518 with 14 HR, 137 wRC+, and 2.5 fWAR. The good news for the Cardinals is that Matt Carpenter, Brandon Moss, and Jhonny Peralta all returned from the DL this week.
The Cardinals last stand in the NL Central might be coming up this weekend. They’ll play four games in Chicago against the Cubs. You would have to imagine that they would have to sweep the Cubs to have any chance down the stretch. Their focus should really be however on a very get-able wild-card spot.
- Mon (8:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (7:15) vs Reds
- Thurs (8:05), Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (8:08) at Cubs
Nick’s Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals
(all teams stayed the same)
Players of the Week
Pitcher: Jamie Garcia, Cardinals: 8.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.76 FIP, 0.5 fWAR
Batter: Ryan Braun, Brewers: .400/.500/1.200, 4 HR, 298 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
All statistics only include games played through 7/6/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).