The last week of the first half will be an intriguing one in the National League Central Division. The Cardinals will play 8 games in 7 days, with 4 at the Cubs, and 3 at the Pirates. If the Cardinals were to have a bad week, we could have a race in the second of the season. If the Cardinals take care of business this week, it will take a miracle for the Pirates or Cubs to catch them in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Brewers have won 8 straight games, and are now tied with the Reds in the win column. The Brewers are 19-14 since June 1st. It is a reverse of seasons of last year for the Milwaukee baseball club.

St. Louis Cardinals 53-28 –
Pittsburgh Pirates 47-34 6.0 GB
Chicago Cubs 44-36 8.5 GB
Cincinnati Reds 36-44 16.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 36-48 18.5 GB

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs had a great week. They swept the Mets, and finished the season 7-o against the Mets. That is the Cubs first season sweep of a team of 7+ games since 1885 (via Elias Sports). The Cubs then won 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Marlins.

The Cubs have regained the second wild card spot from the Giants. The Cubs will have a huge four game series (including a double-header on Tuesday) at Wrigley Field against the Cardinals.

Despite missing nearly the entire first month of the season, Kris Bryant is tied for 13th in the MLB in fWAR (3.2). After a rough week last week, Bryant bounced back with a 225 wRC+ this past week.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Kris Bryant: .333/.420/.778, 2 HR, 1 SB, 225 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Anthony Rizzo: .100/.269/.150, 2 for 20, 30 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:05), Tues (1:20), Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05) vs Cardinals
  • Fri (4:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:20) vs White Sox

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have won 8 straight games, and are now tied with the Cincinnati Reds in the win column. The Brewers beat up the Reds in Cincinnati over the weekend, outscoring them 25-5.

The Brewers have to be kicking themselves right now. If they would have gone just .500 in April (11-11) instead of 5-17, they would have a record of 41-42 right now, and be in the wild card race.

The Brewers offense leads the MLB with 36 runs and a 167 wRC+ in July entering play on Sunday.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Aramis Ramirez: .524/.560/.810, 1 HR, 1 SB, 269 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Francisco Rodriguez: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4.50 ERA, 5.84 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (8:10), Wed (2:10) vs Braves
  • Fri (10:10), Sat (10:10), Sun (4:10) at Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates

bucs

The Pirates swept the Tigers, and took 2 of 3 from the Indians over the weekend. The Bucs are now just 6.0 games out of first place in the NL Central, and will play their final 3 games of the second half at home against the Cardinals.

The Pirates pitching now has the second best ERA in the MLB (2.90), only trailing the Cardinals (2.62). Cole, Burnett, and Liriano have been great all year, but Jeff Locke has also been very good of late. Locke has a 2.29 ERA and 3.14 FIP over his last six starts. The Pirates rotation is pretty darn good.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Neil Walker: .500/.536/.846, 2 HR, 1 SB, 288 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Antonio Bastardo: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10.13 ERA, 9.09 FIP, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) vs Padres
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sat (7:15), Sun (8:05) vs Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

cards

The Cardinals went just 2-4 this week, and saw their NL Central lead fall down 6.0 games. As mentioned above, they will have a tough week with 8 games against the Cubs and Pirates in 7 days before the All-Star break.

The Cardinals offense has gone cold. They scored just 8 runs in their last six games.

Matt Holliday (currently on the DL) and Johnny Peralta were both selected as starters for the NL all-star team.

The Cardinals fired their scouting director, Chris Correa, as fallout from the Cardinals hacking scandal continues. Correa apparently admitted to hacking the Astros database, but his lawyer said he did nothing illegal.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jason Heyward: .304/.407/.435, 2 RBI, 140 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Kolten Wong: .136/.174/.182, 3 for 22, 5 K, -3 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:05), Tues (1:20), Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05) at Cubs
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (7:05), Sat (7:15), Sun (8:05) vs Cardinals

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

  2. Pittsburgh Pirates

  3. Chicago Cubs

  4. Milwaukee Brewers ↑1

  5. Cincinnati Reds ↓1


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Jeff Locke, Pirates: 13.0 IP, 1 R, 3 BB, 11 K, 0.69 ERA, 2.32 FIP, 0.4 fWAR

Batter: Neil Walker, Pirates: .500/.536/.846, 2 HR, 1 SB, 288 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR

 

All statistics include games played through 7/4/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).