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

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

gomez

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

polanco

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

cards

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).