Central Intelligence

Week 19: Central Intelligence

The Cubs have recently gone an 11-game winning streak, and appear to be in complete control of the NL Central. The Cardinals and Pirates are both right in the middle of a heated race for the second wild card spot. The Reds are 16-11 in the second half, and are starting to compete with the Brewers for the fourth spot in the division.

Chicago Cubs 73-43
St. Louis Cardinals 62-56 12.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 59-56 13.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 52-64 21.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 48-68 25.5 GB

Chicago Cubs

Cubs

The Cubs had their 11 game winning streak snapped on Saturday, but they are now running away with the NL Central. They are up 12.0 games with just 46 games left. It’s looking more and more like the Cubs will indeed win the NL Central for the first time since 2008.

The Cubs got some bad news early in the week. Pedro Strop tore his meniscus in his left knee, and will be out 4-6 weeks. Strop had been very good in the Cubs bullpen, posting a 2.89 ERA/2.85 FIP in 43.2 IP, with a sizzling 11.54 K/9. This makes the Chapman trade at the deadline look even more important.

The Cubs also signed Josh Collmenter to help their pen. He was released by the Diamondbacks on July 30th. He was the Dbacks opening day starter back in 2015, but has battled injuries and has a 4.84 ERA/5.68 FIP in 22.1 IP this season.

The Cubs have a bizarre situation going on with utility guy Tommy La Stella. He was sent down to AAA on July 28th, but has refused to go. He has apparently been working out at his home in New Jersey, but refusing to play in the minors. Joe Maddon said that La Stella would be added to the roster when they expand on September 1st, but he will have to get at-bats in the minors in order for that to happen.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:20, 8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (2:20) vs Brewers
  • Fri (8:40), Sat (8:10), Sun (4:10) at Rockies

Milwaukee Brewers

Gomez

The Brewers have lost 7 of 11, including 2 of 3 over the weekend to the Reds. The Reds are now just 4.5 games behind the Brewers, and if they aren’t careful they’ll wind up in the NL Central basement by seasons end.

Former Brewer, Carlos Gomez was designated for assignment this week by the Astros. Gomez was worth 13.1 fWAR between 2013-2014 with the Brewers, and they traded him to the Astros last year with Mike Fiers. It is looking like the Brewers ended up with a steal on the trade. Two of the players the Brewers got back, LHP Josh Hader and OF Brett Phillips are currently on the top 100 prospect list on MLB Pipeline.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:20, 8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (2:20) at Cubs
  • Fri (10:10), Sat (9:10), Sun (4:10) at Mariners

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cervelli

The Pirates had a solid 4-2 week, and continue to keep themselves in contention for a wild card spot. They are only 1.5 games behind the Cardinals for the second spot. They have to feel very fortunate too, as the Pirates only have a +1 run differential on the season, whereas the Cardinals are at +64!

Francisco Cervelli has had a huge month for the Pirates. He is hitting .438/.545/.500 with a 192 wRC+ in August. Cervelli has been catching the Pirates makeshift rotation of Gerrit Cole, Ryan Vogelsong, Jameson Taillon, Chad Krul, and Ivan Nova. That pieced together rotation has been rolling in August. They have a 3.25 ERA, and their 2.95 FIP is the best in the MLB in August. That even includes one start where Jeff Locke got lit up.

This Week

  • Mon (10:15), Tues (10:15), Wed (3:45) at Giants
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) vs Marlins

St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals

The Cardinals had a rough week with injuries. They lost Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, and Michael Wacha to the DL this week. They did recall Randal Grichuk, who hit 2 home runs in the weekend series against the Cubs. The Cardinals are hoping all three guys won’t be out long. They also still have SS Aledmys Diaz out on the DL. The Cardinals are reportedly interested in Carlos Gomez with all of their recent injuries.

The Cardinals lost the first two games of the four game series against the Cubs, but they did win the last two games. That puts the Cardinals up just a half game over the Marlins for the second wild card spot. The Marlins just got bad news that Giancarlo Stanton will be out for the season, but the Pirates and Mets are also close behind.

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (2:10) at Astros
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) at Phillies

 

All statistics only include games played through 8/13/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).

14 thoughts on “Week 19: Central Intelligence

    • At the discretion of the team…. I was reading about it but unfortunately don’t have a link at hand. I believe they have put him on the “temporarily inactive list” per the link above. It seems like the situation was a so called “numbers game” where LaStella was the short straw because he was optionable; and, the Cubs had every intent of recalling LaStella ahead of the roster expansion so that he would be playoff eligible. However LaStella was not amenable to be stuck in the middle of such a shell game.

      • The article I read is that LaStella was firm in a stance that he only wants to and only “will” play for the Cubs. And while I can understand it would really be hard to get sent down from playing on such a great team…. but that’s an awfully tough stance to take and a really, really dangerous precedent to set from the Cubs side.

        • I saw this and also another article where LaStella seemed to be questioning whether he wanted to continue playing professionally at all but seemed open to returning to the Cubs but only at the MLB level.

        • You have to wonder what teammates think of this. I’m thinking, Tommy, you’re a nice player and all, but c’mon. If he doesn’t want to play ball at all, what does that mean about his overall committment? He can be as mad as he wants, but this is kinda crazy.

  1. Giancarlo Stanton hurt again? Looks like another one of those great investments that teams make. What was it? $325 million for 10 years or something like that?

    Amused that the Astros release Carlos Gomez after paying so much for him.

    • Brewers really did play Gomez out perfectly, even if they didn’t necessarily “see this coming.” They got serious bang for the buck signing him (as noted above, 13+ WAR over his two best seasons for a little less than the cost of one year of Jay Bruce) and then trading him out.

      Plus, Gomez always irritated me, so I admit to some schadenfreude.

    • On the radio call yesterday, Marty and Kelch speculated that Stanton’s injury only increases the chances of Miami making a bid to have A-Rod play out the season for them.

      • Probably accurate, but I don’t see why. A-Rod can’t hit anymore. Might as well call someone up from AAA.

  2. Regarding Josh Hader, I saw him pitch live yesterday. Curveball looked nasty.

  3. Not surprised that the Cards have interest in Gomez. I would think they have interest in any available outfielder right now considering the injuries.

  4. The Pirates got a dose of bad news yesterday on their #1 pitching prospect, Tyler Glasnow. He was removed from his rehab start after 3.1 innings pitched with more shoulder inflammation. They were hoping to get him back soon for the stretch run.

    Buyer (Cards) better be aware on looking at Carlos Gomez. Whew. Has any player with his playing history have their production dropped off the cliff before age 30 like Gomez has?

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