The Cardinals (12-5) continue to hold a solid lead in the NL Central, but they were given a major setback over the weekend. There are reports out that Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright is out for the season. Wainwright suffered an Achilles injury while batting on Saturday. The Cardinals are still probably the favorite in the division, but the gap between them, the Cubs (10-7), and the Pirates (11-8) has shrunk significantly.


Chicago Cubs

cubs

The Cubs began the week by splitting a four game series in Pittsburgh. The Cubs then swept the Reds in a rain-shortened two game series in Cincinnati. A major reason for the Cubs 10-7 record has been their starting pitching. The Cubs pitching ranks 4th in the MLB in fWAR (2.8), and 2nd in FIP (2.87). The FIP of the Cubs starting rotation is extremely impressive: Arrieta (1.77), Lester (2.11), Hendricks (3.22), Wood (3.63), and Hammel (3.78)

Kris Bryant has not disappointed in his first week and a half with the Cubs. Bryant is hitting .379/.526/.517 with a 198 wRC+. When you add him to a lineup of Anthony Rizzo (181 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR), Starlin Castro (122 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR), and Jorge Soler (116 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR), you are looking at a very strong young core of Cubbies.

The Cubs also called up their top young prospect Addison Russell. After getting off to a slow start in his first four games for the Cubs, Russell had a 3-RBI double on Sunday to lead the Cubs past the Reds.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Kris Bryant: .409/.536/.591, 217 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jason Motte: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 11.25 ERA, 8.28 FIP, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:05), Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05) vs Pittsburgh
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (2:20) vs Milwaukee

Milwaukee Brewers

brewers

The good news for the Brewers is that they won the final games of each of their two series this week against the Cardinals and Reds. The bad news is that they lost the other five games they played this week. Things are going so bad for the Brewers that they lost 16-10 to the Reds on Tuesday, and 2-1 to the Reds on Wednesday.

The injury bug has really struck the Brewers offense. Their two best offensive players, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez, are both on the DL. With a 4-15 record, it is looking like this will be a long year for the Brewers, although who knows? Last year it looked the Brewers were going to run away with the NL Central early, and we all remember how that turned out.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Adam Lind: .333/.345/.556, 1 HR, 143 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Mike Fiers: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 3 BB, 9.00 ERA, 9.78 FIP, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:10), Tues (7:10), Wed (12:35) at Cincinnati
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (2:20), Sun (2:20) at Chicago

Pittsburgh Pirates

bucs

After losing their first two games of the week to the Cubs, the Pirates have now won five straight games. That included a three game sweep in Arizona over the weekend against the Diamondbacks. The Pirates are now tied with the Cubs for second place in the NL Central, and are just two games behind the Cardinals. The Pirates will get a big test this week, as they play six games on the road against the Cubs and Cardinals.

The Pirates offense might be struggling (22nd in the MLB with 79 wRC+), but their pitching has been stellar. The Pirates pitchers lead the MLB in FIP at 2.83. Their rotation is the main reason for that: Cole (2.22 FIP), Locke (2.24 FIP), Burnett (2.91 FIP), Liriano (3.09 FIP), and Worley (3.42 FIP).

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Gerrit Cole: 13.2 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 1.98 ERA, 1.79 FIP, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Andrew McCutchen: .130/.231/.174, 3 for 23, 7 K, 25 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:05), Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05) at Chicago Cubs
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) at St. Louis

St. Louis Cardinals

cardswainwright

The Cardinals have a two game lead in the NL Central, but the question is how will they deal with the Wainwright injury? The Cardinals rotation is loaded past Wainwright, but losing their top guy really hurts. However, if there was a team in this division equipped to deal with a loss like this, it is the Cardinals. If the Reds lost Cueto, the Pirates lost Cole, or the Cubs lost Lester or Arrieta, their seasons would probably be over. The Cardinals however still have Lynn (1.56 ERA, 1.93 FIP), Wacha (1.33 ERA, 3.72 FIP), Martinez (1.42 ERA, 3.92 FIP), and Lackey (4.34 ERA, 3.67 FIP).

Meanwhile, Matt Carpenter is off to an MVP caliber start to 2015. Carpenter is hitting .388/.438/.672 with 3 HR, 210 wRC+, and 1.2 fWAR. In addition to Carpenter, the Cardinals have also got good starts offensively from Holliday (161 wRC+) and Peralta (143 wRC+).

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Matt Carpenter: .400/.444/.760, 2 HR, 233 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jon Jay: .190/.292/.238, 4 for 21, 46 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:15), Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) vs Philadelphia
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (2:15), Sun (2:15) vs Pittsburgh

Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

  2. Chicago Cubs

  3. Pittsburgh Pirates

  4. Cincinnati Reds

  5. Milwaukee Brewers

(all teams remained in the same spot from last week)


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Gerrit Cole, Pirates: 13.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 1.98 ERA, 1.79 FIP, 0.5 fWAR

Batter: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: .400/.444/.760, 2 HR, 233 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

 

All statistics include games played through 4/25/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).