NL Central Intelligence: A Look Around the Division for Week Ending September 16
Two more weeks.
With the end of the season drawing ever so much closer, the playoff picture is almost complete. The Central has become a two-team race, with another fighting for the wild card. Here is a look…
- The Cubs look like they are out of gas. They have played 27 days in a row due to some rain and quirky scheduling, but have managed to keep the NL’s best record at 87-62. This is good enough for a 2.5-game lead over the Brewers.
- If this team wants to go anywhere in the postseason, they will need contributions from guys like Carl Edwards Jr. and Steve Cishek. Edwards has walked 11 hitters over his last 15 appearances (10.2 IP). In his last seven games, he has walked seven hitters in four innings. Edwards is the guy to get key outs and he can’t be walking them. Cishek has posted a 5.06 ERA in his last 15 games, along with a 7.36 ERA in his last seven.
- Those two are even more important now since Pedro Strop will miss the rest of the regular season after injuring himself running down to first after somehow taking an at bat in the 10th inning of Thursday’s win against the Nationals. Hey, on another bullpen note, Brandon Morrow expects to be back sometime this week.
- Javier Baez is trying his hardest to lead the national league in RBI. With 13 games left, his 103 driven in stands as the most in the league.
- The Brewers have a wild card spot locked up at this point, barring some catastrophic collapse. They are 85-65.
- Christian Yelich has had a legtimate MVP season. He reached the 30-home run plateau Saturday, adding to his career high.
- Josh Hader seems to be back to his first half self heading towards the postseason. In a series against the Cubs last week, he pitched three innings and got all nine outs on strikeouts. That’s what will work in the postseason.
- Jesus Aguilar is going to join the 100 RBI club fairly soon. After his home run Sunday, he sits on 99 RBI.
St. Louis Cardinals
- After what looked like a certainty for much of the second half, the Cardinals are now fighting for a playoff spot. A recent rough stretch has them at 81-68, a game behind the Dodgers for the second wild card spot.
- Marcell Ozuna has finally become the player the Cardinals traded for. Over his last 30 games, Ozuna is slashing .317/.346/.567 with nine home runs. He has been a big reason for the Cards’ resurgence.
- Since reuniting with the Cards, Matt Adams is only slashing .167/.216/.354. Not exactly the thump the Birds were looking for.
- Jack Flaherty has become the Cardinals’ ace. In 25 starts (138.1 IP), he has a 2.86 ERA, 168 strikeouts, a .193 opponent average (95 hits allowed) This kid is for real.
- The Pirates now sit right on the .500 fence at 74-74. A winning season is well within reach.
- Perhaps unexpectedly, Trevor Williams has been the Bucs’ best pitcher by a long way. He has pitched to a 3.16 ERA and has posted a .227 opponent batting average over 29 starts.
- Chris Archer has a 5.49 ERA in eight starts with the Pirates. The good news is there is a lot of time for him to improve over the next two seasons.
- Gregory Polanco set a new career high in home runs, hitting his 23rd on Labor Day.
- There really are loads of potential for this team to be so good next year, but for right now they are playing out the schedule and now sit at 64-86.
- The Reds have set a new franchise record with 11 grand slams.
- The Reds are beginning to build some depth in the outfield. Philip Ervin, Jesse Winker, Billy Hamilton, and Scott Schebler are all viable major league options. Some of the pieces are in place.
- The Reds should consider re-signing Matt Harvey. He gives them innings and has been a lot better than he was as a Met. Pitching is hard to find, why not keep the current assets around?