The Cubs are making a serious run at the St. Louis Cardinals here in mid-May. The Cubs have won 6 of their last 7 games, and now find themselves just 4.0 games behind the Cardinals. This past week was an impressive response from the young Cubs, who just a week ago went 2-5, including dropping 3 of 4 in St. Louis. The time just might be now for these rising stars in Chicago, who were thought to be at least another year away before the season.

St. Louis Cardinals 25-12
Chicago Cubs 21-16 4.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 18-20 7.5 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 18-20 7.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 13-25 13.0 GB

Chicago Cubs


Here come the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had a very impressive four game sweep over the first-place Mets to begin the week. The Cubs took 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Pirates, to continue their surge in the NL Central.

There are a lot of reasons for the Cubs success, but you have to start by looking at two studs in the lineup, and two studs in the rotation. Anthony Rizzo (189 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR) and Kris Bryant (148 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR) look like one of the scariest young duos in recent MLB memory. In the rotation, you have the somehow still underrated Jake Arrieta (3.00 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 1.5 fWAR) and Jon Lester (3.70 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 0.9 fWAR). Lester has been really good of late, as he has a 1.67 ERA in 4 starts in May.

ho’s Hot (last 7 days): Kris Bryant: .360/.485/.800, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 229 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Starlin Castro: .179/.250/.250, 5 for 32, 5 K, 36 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (10:10), Wed (10:10), Thurs (9:10) at Padres
  • Fri (9:40), Sat (10:10), Sun (4:10) at Diamondbacks

Milwaukee Brewers


The Brewers lost two of three to both the White Sox and Mets this week. The Brewers are now 2-9-1 through their first 12 series of the season.

The Brewers got more bad news during a bad season. Carlos Gomez got drilled in the helmet on a 96 MPH fastball from Noah Syndergaard, and had to leave the game on Sunday. Gomez has been hitting really well since returning from the DL. He hit .333/.333/.708 with 2 HR, and 176 wRC+ over the last week.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Kyle Lohse: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.53 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Scooter Gennett: .059/.059/.059, 1 for 17, 4 K, -81 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:08), Tues (7:08), Wed (7:08) at Tigers
  • Thurs (7:10), Fri (7:35), Sat (4:10), Sun (1:35) at Braves

Pittsburgh Pirates


The Pirates ended a four game losing streak on Sunday against the Cubs. The Pirates lost in bizarre fashion on Friday afternoon to the Cubs. Gregory Polanco tripped on a shallow fly ball, which allowed the Cubs to win 11-10 in the 12th inning. The Pirates now sit at 18-20 on the season.

The good news for the Pirates is that Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen are finally heating up after slow starts. McCutchen has a 132 wRC+ over the last two weeks, while Harrision has a 124 wRC+.

Like the Reds, the Pirates will have two off days this week (Monday and Thursday). That means the Pirates will skip Vance Worley in the rotation.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Josh Harrison: .458/.500/.792, 2 HR, 1 SB, 254 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jeff Locke, 2 GS 10.1 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 3 HR, 5 BB, 6.97 ERA, -0.3 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) vs Twins
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (1:35) vs Mets

St. Louis Cardinals


The Cardinals have seen their lead in the NL Central drop quickly, as the Cubs have won 6 of their last 7. The Cardinals were nearly on the wrong side of history on Tuesday night. Johnny Peralta broke up Corey Kluber’s no-hitter in the 8th inning on Tuesday night, but the Cardinals were struck out 18 times by Kluber. The Cardinals struck out 40 times in the three game series in Cleveland this week, but were still somehow able to take 2 of 3 games from the Indians. The Cardinals then lost 2 of 3 over the weekend in Detroit.

I wrote about the Cardinals and John Lackey’s cheap retaliation earlier this week in The Cardinal Back Alley Way.

The Cardinals will get a major test this week. They will play on the road against two first place teams: the Mets (22-16) and the (Royals 24-14).

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jhonny Peralta: .294/.429/.706, 2 HR, 203 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Matt Adams: .118/.118/.118, 2 for 17, 7 K, -42 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:10), Tues (7:10), Wed (7:10), Thurs (1:10) at Mets
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:15), Sun (2:10) at Royals

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: Kyle Lohse, Brewers: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 1.53 FIP, 0.4 fWAR

Batter: Josh Harrison, Pirates: 458/.500/.792, 2 HR, 1 SB, 254 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR

All statistics include games played through 5/16/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). 

19 Responses

  1. Vanessa Galagnara

    The Cubs have shown the baseball world the proper way to build a prospect laden farm system. Hopefully the Reds can hire away some of their braintrusts and emulate. I am convinced that the Cubs will be in the World Series within the next 5 years while we Reds fans will still be complaining about the long lasting effect of Walt Jocketty.

    • i71_Exile

      That way starts with lose big and ends with sign the best free agent pitcher available.

      • sultanofswaff

        Give any franchise (hello Houston) 4 years to stockpile draft picks and you’ll field a pretty decent team. There’s nothing impressive about what the Cubs are doing given how long it took and their status as a top 5 revenue team. More to the point, the Cubs haven’t won anything yet, while the Reds model has seen us get to the postseason 3 times in the last 5 years.

      • IndyRedMan

        Jocketty couldn’t do it. He’s too busy filling the roster with ex-Cardinals or handing out big contracts to the wrong people.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I’m impressed. Theo basically started with zip and has created a monster. I absolutely think that club will be in the playoffs and my pick to go to the WS. Great roster, great manager and will spend money to get what they are missing at the ASB. I’m very envious of their situation. Love youthful teams sprinkled with just enough veterans at key spots.

        Should be a real dog fight with the Cards until the end of the year but give the Cubs a slight edge because of youth and their great manager.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        I feel you but you are wrong. the Cubs stockpoled hitters while everyone else grabbed pitchers. Sure they stank for quite a while. The Reds were good for quite a while and how many division titles and how many world series titles during our good years? I would bet money down the Cubs make it to the world series before the Reds and that is all that matters. You play 162 to win 4 in October. Something the Reds are terrible at despite having one of the best starting rotations of the 2000’s. Im not a Cub fan, but I am jealous of where they are right now, today as a franchise.

      • jdx19

        I think you have to look at the plan implemented when Hoyer and Epstein took over the reins. Everything that happened before the management takeover isn’t relevant. I think it’s fairly impressive what they’ve done. They signed the right guys (Rizzo) to long-term deals, let the right guys go (Samardzija), and correctly figured out when to sign a few FA (Lester, Fowler) to help them compete. And they certainly are competing. And this is with one of their big 3 prospects (Soler) having a pretty slow start based on his projections.

        There is no guarantee that years of badness lead to goodness through the draft. Just look at Pitt and other perennially bad teams. You can go 20+ years w/o having a good team. But, once the new guys came into CHI, they had a set 4-5 year plan and it’s worked. Kudos to them, I say.

      • Nick Kirby

        I agree with Vanessa’s great point. Theo really got it right by stockpiling hitters while everyone else was going after pitchers. I think what the Cubs have done in such a short time is impressive. Let’s not forget, just a couple years ago this team had a ton of bad contracts, and no future.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Nick, heard you on ESPN Radio-Dayton. Really nice job! You represented the Nation with distinction.

      • jdx19

        Oh, cool! Is there a recording of this anywhere online?!

    • redmountain

      And it only took ten years to develop any kind of farm system. It should be noted that they traded for a lot of the guys responsible for this prospect laden farm system. Also, many pundits thought for about the last six or seven years that KC would be a prime candidate to win their division and they still have not.

      • jdx19

        Ten Years? Look at what has been done since Epstein and Hoyer took over the show.

  2. ragekage83

    Hey Nick! I’m also a Reds fan stranded in Cleveland. You going to the series this weekend?

    • Nick Kirby

      Oh man….of course I have to be in a wedding in CINCINNATI the week the Reds are in Cleveland. I have some bad luck.

  3. sultanofswaff

    There’s just too many teams above us in the fight for a playoff spot. This early in the season you’d normally say we have to see how it plays out, but I just don’t where the growth will come from for the Reds. Sure, Bruce and Votto could start raking, but would it do more than offset the 3 rookies we’ll likely have in our rotation for the rest of the year? How does the bullpen fix itself???

    I’d trade Cueto/Leake/Chapman today if it means we can maximize the prospects we get in return.

    REBUILDING TIME IS UPON US. The longer we wait to acknowledge that fact, the longer it will take to return to contention.

    • Nick Kirby

      I agree that it is time to rebuild, but I don’t really think you are going to get much more for Cueto/Leake/Chapman today than in July. A team like the Dodgers knows they will make the playoffs with or without those guys, so trading for them now wouldn’t make a ton of sense (they don’t have to risk injury for as long, which is very important when you are trading for a rental player). I am fine with Walt waiting and seeing where the Reds are in July. Maybe some of the other teams ahead of the Reds (God forbid) get beat up with injuries. You never know, and if the Reds have a decent shot of making the playoffs come July, it may be worth taking the shot. It is pretty apparent the Reds will be in a rebuilding mode in 2016/17, so it might be a while before you get another shot. All you need in the playoffs is a shot: see 2010, 2012, 2014 San Francisco Giants.

  4. WVRedlegs

    Walt Jocketty is a relic. He is the GM equivalent to petrified wood. A fossil.
    Heaven help the Reds.

  5. Mary Lykins

    Our team is more than a couple of players away. Way too many holes in all phases of our team. The most bang for our buck would be shoring up the bullpen. At least we can stay close in games.