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

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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).