NL Central Intelligence: A Look Around the Division for the Week of May 13

The Central is neck-and-neck almost two months in

Milwaukee Brewers

  • After a 5-1 week, the Brewers remain in first and are now 10 games over .500 at 28-18.
  • Ryan Braun returned to the DL as his back injury has flared up again. Milwaukee is now without their top two first basemen with Eric Thames being sidelined as well.
  • Josh Hader is something. Going into Sunday’s action, he has an .080 opponent batting average with a 0.51 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 27.1 innings. If a reliever is ever going to win the Cy Young again…
  • Zach Davies’ return is imminent. He made a rehab start on Saturday and looked decent, striking out nine on just 56 pitches over 4.2 innings. Things are looking good for Milwaukee right now.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Much to the surprise of pretty much everyone, this Pirates team is hanging in the race. Posting a 3-3 record this week, the Bucs are a game and a half out of first at 26-19.
  • Prospect Austin Meadows made his MLB debut Friday night. He started in center field and went 2-for-4. He will get a lot of playing time right away with Starling Marte going back to the DL with an oblique injury.
  • The breakout season continues for Trevor Williams. After 7 scoreless innings against the White Sox, his ERA now sits at 2.72, tops on the staff.
  • Little-known reliever Richard Rodriguez is making a name for himself. Through 13 appearances, he has a 1.62 ERA with 29 strikeouts and just two walks in 16.2 innings.

Chicago Cubs

  • The Cubs have climbed into third place, 2.5 back of the Brewers. After a 3-4 week, including a split double-header against the Reds, Chicago is 24-19.
  • Ian Happ went yard in both ends of Saturday’s double-header, giving him home runs No. 13,999 and 14,000 in Cubs history. He is the first Cub to homer on both ends of a double header since the great Chris Coghlan back in 2014. Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams accomplished that feat 10 times in his Hall of Fame career.
  • Jason Heyward returned from the concussion DL this weekend. In the nightcap on Saturday he hit a bases-clearing triple that deflected off the glove of Scooter Gennett and very well could have been an inside the park home run.
  • Coming into Saturday’s action, Cubs’ relievers were walking 12 percent of the hitters they faced, the second-highest rate in baseball. This is something to watch for the rest of the season.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The top four teams in the division are separated by 2.5 games. The Cardinals and Cubs are tied for third with the same record after the Birds went 2-4 this week to put them at 24-19.
  • Paul DeJong will undergo surgery after getting hit by a pitch in the hand and will miss significant time.
  • Carson Kelly, the replacement for Yadier Molina, is now on the DL and the Cardinals are down to Steven Baron. The roster is in a bad way with injuries right now.
  • Tyler O’Neill cracked his first big league homer on Saturday against the Phillies. A nice moment for a kid who should see some playing time with all the injuries.

Cincinnati Reds

  • A 3-4 week brings the Reds to 16-31. The record may not look it, but they really are playing better under Jim Riggleman.
  • Matt Harvey’s second start was not as great as the first. He pitched four innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs against the Giants on Wednesday.
  • Gennett is proving that last year is not a fluke. His current slash line of .324/.358/.512 is pacing the team.
  • The Reds have to be relieved that Amir Garrett found a role for himself. The 1.35 ERA out of the bullpen is providing a nice bridge for Raisel Iglesias.
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