The Cardinals completed a three game sweep over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon, courtesy of a Kolten Wong walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning. The Cardinals now hold a 4.5 game lead over the second place Cubs, and are 6.5 games ahead of the Pirates and Reds.

NLC


Chicago Cubs

cubs

The Cubs started the week by winning their first two games against the Pirates, and pushed their record on the season to 12-7. The Cubs however lost the series finale to the Pirates, and lost two of three at home over the weekend to the struggling Brewers.

The Cubs have been lead so far in 2015 by Anthony Rizzo (174 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR) and Jake Arrieta (2.84 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 0.9 fWAR). Jon Lester’s ERA has dropped to 4.71, and he didn’t allow a run in seven innings in his last start. Lester’s 2.37 FIP suggests that he has pitched much better than his ERA might indicate. The Cubs pitching actually leads the MLB with a 2.85 FIP. The Cubs also added some bullpen depth by acquiring Anthony Varvaro off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jason Hammel: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.39 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Kris Bryant: .143/.280/.143, 3 for 25, 10 K, 32 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) at Cardinals
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) at Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers finally won their first series of 2015, as they took two of three from the Cubs over the weekend. It was the longest the Brewers had gone in the season without winning a series since 1972.

The Brewers announced late Sunday night that they have fired their manager Ron Roenicke. There are reports that former Brewer, and World Series hero Craig Counsell will take over as the Brewers new skipper. The move doesn’t come as too big of a surprise, as the Brewers had a major collapse last season, and are off to a dreadful start in 2015. It will be interesting to see how Craig Counsell, a guy with zero coaching experience, and only three years removed from his playing career will fair as a big league manager. It does seem to be the trend though these days to hire a young manager.

The Brewers got more bad news on Sunday, as Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by a pitch. Early signs appear like Segura will be alright, but you never know with these type of things. There has really been nothing go right for the Brewers, as they are 29th in the MLB in wRC+ (70), 25th in ERA (4.48), and 27th in FIP (4.65)

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Ryan Braun: .278/.316/.944, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 232 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jimmy Nelson: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 27.00 ERA, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:20), Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (1:40) vs Dodgers
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Cubs

Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pirates had a miserable week. They lost two of three to the Cubs, then got swept over the weekend in St. Louis. The Pirates now find themselves below .500 at 12-13, and are tied for third place with the Reds. It is only early May, but the Pirates find themselves 6.5 games behind the surging Cardinals.

The Pirates offense has really let them down so far in 2015 (77 wRC+, 26th in the MLB), but their pitching has not (2.89 FIP, 2nd in the MLB). Their rotation has been unbelievable with Gerrit Cole (1.76 ERA, 2.16 FIP), A.J. Burnett (1.45 ERA, 2.88 FIP), and Francisco Liriano (1.95 ERA, 3.33 FIP). The Pirates will have a big week, as they try to rebound from their recent skid. The Pirates host the Reds and the Cardinals this week.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Francisco Liriano: 14.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 11 K, 0.63 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 0.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Josh Harrison: .143/.143/.190, 3 for 21, -11 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (7:05) vs Reds
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) vs Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

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The Cardinals have the best record in the MLB at 18-6. They took three of four from the Phillies, and then went on to sweep the Pirates over the weekend. The Cardinals seem to have their good luck working for them, as they won all three games against the Pirates over the weekend by one run.

What haven’t the Cardinals done great so far in 2015? Their pitching has the best ERA in the MLB (2.28), while their offense ranks 10th in wRC+ (103). Matt Carpenter is third in the MLB in fWAR (1.7), as he has hit .366/.434/.634 with a 193 wRC+. The Cardinals are off to their best start record wise since 1944. Right now they look like they will run away with the NL Central, but it’s a long season.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Matt Adams: .444/.448/.667, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 207 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Yadier Molina: .091/.160/.091, 2 for 22, -25 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (1:45) vs Cubs
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sun (1:35) at Pirates

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: Jason Hammel, Cubs: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.39 FIP, 0.4 fWAR

Batter: Matt Adams, Cardinals: .444/.448/.667, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 207 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

 

All statistics include games played through 5/2/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).