It was starting to look like the St. Louis Cardinals were running away with the NL Central last week. The Cardinals had a six game lead in the division with just 26 games to play. That has all changed in just one week. The Cardinals have lost 6 of 8, and 8 of their last 11 games to open the door for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates have won 6 of their last 7 games, and are now just 2.5 games back in the NL Central. There could be a really fantastic finish in the NL Central over the final three weeks of the season.

St. Louis Cardinals 89-54 –
Pittsburgh Pirates 86-56 2.5 GB
Chicago Cubs 82-60 6.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 62-81 27.0 GB (E)
Cincinnati Reds 60-82 28.5 GB (E)

Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They haven’t officially clinched, but they are up 7.5 games on the San Francisco Giants with just 20 games to play. The Cubs magic number is 13. The Cubs have reached a 100% chance or making the playoffs according to Fangraphs.

Last week, we discusses the concerns over Kyle Schwarber and his injured rib cage. Schwarber put those worries to rest on Friday night in Philadelphia. Schwarber hit two absolute bombs on Friday night. He did however slip on first-base, which his teammates definitely enjoyed.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:35), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) at Pirates
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (1:05), Sun (2:20) vs Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers were officially eliminated from the postseason with a loss on Sunday. The Brewers have lost 5 of 6, and are now feeling the heat of a potential last place finish in the NL Central. The Reds have surprisingly got hot, and are now just 1.5 games behind the Brewers.

The Brewers did something cool this past week when they called up former Reds farm-hand, Nevin Ashley. The catcher, Ashley has spent 10 years in the minors without reaching the majors. Ashley assumed when AAA manager Rick Sweet came to see him after the final game that he was wishing him a good off-season, but instead he was called up. Ashley has gone 1 for 7 for the Brewers.

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) vs Cardinals
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

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Here come the Pirates. They have won 5 of 6, and are right back in the NL Central race.

A.J. Burnett made his return to the Pirates rotation on Thursday. Burnett allowed three runs in 5.0 innings. It was the first time Burnett had pitched since July 30th. The Pirates made a cool gesture for Burnett too, as they put up the bat signal in a building you could see from the stadium

The Pirates will have a very tough week as they try to case the Cardinals. They play four games against the Cubs (including a doubleheader on Tuesday), and three games at the Dodgers.

This Week:

  • Tues (1:35), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (12:35) vs Cubs
  • Fri (10:10), Sat (9:10), Sun (4:10) at Dodgers

St. Louis Cardinals

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Injuries just might finally be catching up to the Cardinals. It was just one series, but the Cardinals looked like an exhausted team as they lost 3 of 4 in Cincinnati over the weekend.

The Cardinals third-string catcher, Cody Stanley was suspended for 80 games for a second positive PED testing.

Injury updates: 

  • Matt Adams returned for the Cardinals, but so far he has been limited to pinch-hit duties. He is still not at 100%.
  • Matt Holliday is hoping to return sometime next week.
  • Randal Grichuk also has returned for the Cardinals, but he can not throw. He has been limited to pinch-hit duties mostly, although he did start in CF on Wednesday. He couldn’t throw though, so when a ball was hit to him, he flipped the ball to the rightfielder Jason Heyward to throw into the infield.
  • The Cardinals are also still not ruling out a return for Adam Wainwright, but it would still be a near miracle.

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) at Brewers
  • Fri (2:20), Sat (1:05), Sun (2:20) at Cubs

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

  2. Pittsburgh Pirates

  3. Chicago Cubs

  4. Milwaukee Brewers

  5. Cincinnati Reds

(all teams stayed the same)


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Anthony DeSclafani, Reds: 13.1 IP, 2 R, 0 HR,  16 K, 1 BB, 1.35 ERA, 0.97 FIP, 0.7 fWAR

Batter: Francisco Cervelli, Pirates: .412/.545/.471, 195 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

 

All statistics include games played through 9/12/15, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).