The NL Central preseason favorite Cardinals (8-3) are off to a great start. The Pirates (6-6), and the new look Cubs (6-5) are not too far behind though. The Reds (5-7) have lost 7 of 8, and the Brewers are off to a brutal 2-10 start. It is still very early in the season, but so far the division has shaken out about how we expected.

Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs won 2 of 3 against the Reds, but lost 2 of 3 against the Padres over the weekend. The Cubs pitching is off to a tremendous start, as they lead the MLB in FIP (2.49) and WAR (2.2). Jake Arrieta (1.98 ERA, 2.11 FIP) is leading the way for the Cubs. Jon Lester is off an unlucky start (7.84 ERA, 1.64 FIP), but that won’t last for long.

The Cubs offense has been lead by, no surprise, Anthony Rizzo (149 wRC+, 0.4 WAR), but he hasn’t lead the team alone. Dexter Fowler (129 wRC+), Jorge Soler (131 wRC+), Starlin Castro (117 wRC+), and Chris Coghlan (139 wRC+) are all off to good starts as well.

Kris Bryant was finally called up on Friday, but went 0 for 4 with 3 K’s in his debut. Bryant however reached base five times on Sunday. The sky is the limit for Bryant, who absolutely dominated in the minor leagues.

Kris Bryant

Who’s Hot (season stats): Anthony Rizzo: .281/.467/.406, 1 HR, 149 wRC+, 0.4 WAR
Who’s Cold (season stats): Arismendy Alcantara: .083/.241/.083, 2 for 24, 9 wRC+, -0.2 WAR

This week:

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) at Pittsburgh
  • Fri (7:10), Sat (1:10), Sun (1:10) at Cincinnati

Milwaukee Brewers

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There has been very little go right for the Brewers in the first two weeks of the season. They were swept over the weekend in Pittsburgh. They not only have the worst record in the majors, but are off to their worst start in franchise history.

The Brewers pitching staff has the third worst ERA in the majors (4.69), and their offense is tied with the Twins for the worst wRC+ (61) in the majors. Ryan Braun (63 wRC+), Jonathan Lucroy (19 wRC+), Scooter Gennett (28 wRC+), and Aramis Ramirez (-18 wRC+) are all off to tough starts. The only positive for the Brewers is that that 7 of their next 10 games are against the Reds, who have lost 7 of 8.

Who’s Hot (season stats): Jean Segura: .350/.381/.475, 1 HR, 2 SB, 142 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
Who’s Cold (season stats): Aramis Ramirez: .140/.140/.186, 6 for 43, -18 wRC+, -0.5 WAR

Up Next:

  • Mon (7:20), Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (1:40) vs Cincinnati
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs St. Louis

Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pirates began the season by being swept in Cincinnati, but have won 6 of 9 since, including a sweep over the Brewers over the weekend. The Pirates offense is off to a slow start (78 wRC+, 24th in the MLB), but their pitching has been tremendous. Their Pirates pitching staff’s 2.96 FIP only trails the Cubs for the best in the MLB.

Jeff Locke (2.28 FIP), A.J. Burnett (2.33 FIP), and Gerrit Cole (2.72 FIP) are all off to great starts in the Pirates rotation. When the Pirates bats really start to come around, this is a very dangerous team in the NL Central.

Who’s Hot (season stats): Jeff Locke: 14.0 IP, 1.93 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 8 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 0.4 WAR
Who’s Cold (season stats): Josh Harrison: .205/.279/.308, 8 for 39, 67 wRC+, -0.1 WAR

Up Next:

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) vs Chicago
  • Fri (9:40), Sat (8:10), Sun (4:10) at Arizona

St. Louis Cardinals

Cards

The Cardinals have won five straight games, as their pitching has allowed just six total runs over those five games. This team simply once again looks like the class of the NL Central.

The Cardinals pitching has an MLB best 2.00 ERA, while their offense has been middle of the road (97 wRC+). Matt Carpenter is off to a tremendous start (200 wRC+). Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright (1.68 FIP) and Lance Lynn (1.45 FIP) have dominated their first couple times through the rotation. The Cardinals will have an interesting test to begin the week, as they travel to DC for a series,with the Nationals.

Who’s Hot (season stats): Matt Carpenter: .381/.435/.619, 1 HR, 200 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
Who’s Cold (season stats): Jon Jay: .206/.270/.235, 7 for 34, 42 wRC+, -0.1 WAR

Up Next: 

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (4:05) at Washington
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) at Milwaukee

Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

  2. Chicago Cubs ↑ 1

  3. Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 1

  4. Cincinnati Reds

  5. Milwaukee Brewers


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Jeff Locke, Pirates: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 ER, 1.13 ERA, 1.49 FIP, 0.4 WAR

Batter: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: .444/.464/.815, 1 HR, 262 wRC+, 0.7 WAR

 

All statistics include games played through 4/18/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). 

12 Responses

  1. Kywhi

    Good review of what for Reds fans is the awful truth. While I assumed the Cardinals would be at the top, I never imagined Cincinnati would look so hapless so early after a 4-0 start.

  2. ragekage83

    Dexter Fowler sure would look good in LF right now…

    • Steve Mancuso

      Where’s the LIKE button?

      (Playing LF and hitting leadoff.)

    • MrRed

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Cubs gave up Valbuena and Dan Straily to get Fowler? What would be the equivalent trade if it had been the Reds? Or would there be an equivalent trade available? One wonders what, or if, the Reds proposed to the Astros.

      • MrRed

        I guess the big caveat, as has been the case for some time with the Reds, is the bottom line effect on payroll if the Reds had added Fowler. As I recall, it seemed like Fowler would have pushed the Reds over their assumed 2015 budget.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Did the Reds trade Simon & Latos before Fowler joined the Cubs?

      • MrRed

        Yes, both of those trades occurred about a month before the Fowler deal. As we now see, those moves were for a salary dump and not to make room to retool the roster. It comes back to the quandary that the FO is in. Either go for it or rebuild. Being in between hasn’t been viable since the last half of 2013.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Square peg meet round hole. Probably not enough payroll room to put a competitive team on the field. Hope I’m wrong and not giving up on 2015 yet.

      • WVRedlegs

        C’mon seriously, what would Jocketty do with a LF with a 13.1 BB% and an OBP of .375?
        You guys seem to forget there is some (bad) history between Jocketty and the Astros GM Jeff Luhnov. Luhnov helped bring Analytics to the Cardinals, and was in charge of their minor league system, which led to some opposition from Jocketty. Jocketty left the Cards before the 2008 season and brought his wayward, out-of-date approach to Cincinnati.
        Luhnov probably asked for a higher package from Cincinnati if they talked at all. Granted, the Reds and Astros made a minor trade in March of a couple minor leaguers, but that might have been Towers involved.
        Now a question would be, would have Simon or Latos brought back Fowler in a trade if those 2 teams had talked? One year of Fowler for one year of Latos or Simon. Houston was looking for a starting pitcher this past winter.

  3. Tom Reed

    The offensive hole in left field comes down to payroll and they didn’t want to acquire some one who would block Winker in 2016.

    • jdx19

      Winker has yet to prove he can hit at the AA level. We all suspect he can, assuming he stays healthy with no freak accidents, but if I were a bettering man I’d say Winker isn’t the starting LFer next year.