Cubs have played better in the second half (David Kohl - USA Today Sports)
Cubs have played better in the second half (David Kohl - USA Today Sports)

NL Central Standings Update: Cubs in third place


by - Staff Writer -

We at CubsHQ are here to break down the action of the NL Central periodically as the season progresses. Here is our seventh NL Central update of the year:

St. Louis Cardinals 79-56

The St. Louis Cardinals did not make a ton of noise in the offseason, but their 17-game winning streak in September of last season gave them the confidence to have a strong season in 2022. Reuniting Albert Pujols with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina for one more year mixed with the talent that Arenado, Goldschmidt, Carlson, and O’Neil have given the Cardinals a very potent lineup. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have proven to be one of the MLB’s best duos, with nearly 70 home runs and almost 200 runs driven in between the two of them so far, with Goldschmidt firmly in the MVP race. On the mound, Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright have carried the weight. Not to mention, the Cardinals had a recent boost from Albert Pujols’ surge toward 700 homers as he is five homers away from history. St. Louis led the National League Central with five all-stars: Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Albert Pujols as a legacy selection, Ryan Hesley and Miles Mokolas. At the trade deadline, the Cardinals parted ways with Harrison Bader to the New York Yankees, for Jordan Montgomery — and acquired Jose Quintana from Pittsburgh. Montgomery has been on fire since coming to St. Louis as well.

Since we last updated, the Cardinals have been the hottest team in the MLB. not lost. The Cards dropped two of three to Colorado, took two of three from Milwaukee, swept the Rockies and Diamondbacks, took three of five from the Chicago Cubs, took two of three from the Braves and Reds, swept the Cubs, and then dropped game one to the Nationals to open this week.

UP NEXT: This week, the Redbirds play the Nationals and then visit Pittsburgh for three games over the weekend.

Milwaukee Brewers 71-63 (7.5 games back)

Similar to last season, the Brewers are constructed to prevent runs, not really score them. The Brewers are boosted by an excellent pitching staff of Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes — a three-headed monster that stacks up against anybody in the National League. Peralta has faced some time on the injured list but is expected to return soon. Burnes looks primed to be in the Cy Young race once again. Willy Adames, Luis Urias, and Avisail Garcia have led the Brewers offensively — each with 20 plus homers and nearly 60 runs driven in. The Brewers sent Burnes, Hader, and Devin Williams to the all-star game. But the Brewers shocked the world at the trade deadline by sending Josh Hader to the aggressive Padres.

Since we last updated, the Brewers dropped out of first place and scuffled. The Brewers took two games from the Rays. The Brewers then dropped two of three to the Cardinals, split a series of four with the Dodgers, and dropped two of three to the Cubs and Dodgers before winning two of three over the Cubs and Pirates to close out August. Milwaukee then dropped three of four to the Diamondbacks before winning game one over the Rockies on Monday.

UP NEXT: This week, the Brewers take on the Rockies, have a doubleheader with the Giants on Thursday, and then host Cincinnati for three over the weekend.

Chicago Cubs 56-78 (22.5 games back)

It was an up-and-down season for the Chicago Cubs last year, after losing over 10 players at the trading deadline and building toward the future. The rebuild is far from over, but the Cubs are now in that transition to a new team, with Marcus Stroman and Nick Madrigal as the main newcomers to go along with the early favorite for rookie of the year: Seiya Suzuki. But, all three have struggled to stay on the field in their first year with Chicago — despite playing much better as of late. It has been the spark provided by rookie Christopher Morel and Willson Contreras being the best catcher in baseball that has kept the Cubs afloat. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ are also enjoying breakout campaigns. The Cubs look much different so far, but they hope the next great Cubs team isn’t too far away. Especially, with Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson proving they can be mainstays in the Cubs rotation in years to come. The Cubs had two players represent them in the all-star game, starring catcher Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. While many expected Contreras and Happ to be dealt at the deadline, the Cubs only sent away a quartet of relievers (Chris Martin, Scott Effross, David Robertson, and Mychal Givens).

Since we last updated, the Cubs took two of three from the Nationals, won the Field of Dreams game in Iowa and took two of three from the Reds, then took two of three from the Nationals, won a makeup game over the Orioles, took two of three from the Brewers and then dropped three of five to the Cardinals. Since then, the Cubs have dropped two of three to the Brewers, and Blue Jays and got swept by the Cardinals.

UP NEXT: This week, the Cubs will host the Reds and the Giants.

Cincinnati Reds 53-79 (24.5 games back)

The Reds were one of the worst teams in the MLB early on, and have been much better since. After nearly making the playoffs and having multiple breakout seasons offensively, the Reds have said goodbye to Nicholas Castellanos, Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez, and their lineup has struggled mightily early on. Joey Votto is struggling, as the Reds offense has been led by Brandon Drury, who has been traded to the Padres, Tommy Pham, who has been traded to the Mets, and Kyle Farmer thus far. The pitching staff has been led by sole All-Star Luis Castillo, but he has since been traded to the Mariners for a boatload of prospects.

Since we last updated, the Reds were swept by the Mets, dropped two of three to the Cubs, dropped two of three to the Phillies, won two of three from the Pirates, dropped all four to the Phillies, and took two of three from the Nationals, dropped two of three to the Cardinals and took two of three from the Rockies.

UP NEXT: This week, the Reds visit the Cubs and Brewers.

Pittsburgh Pirates 49-84 (29 games back)

The Pirates were widely expected to finish last in this division over the course of the last few years, but the progress they have made over the years does not pencil them in as a bottom feeder in this division. So far, the team is below .500 with solid contributions around the field. Bryan Reynolds has led things so far for the Pirates, but Jack Suwinski’s 14 home runs lead all rookies. The Pirates also sent reliever David Bednar to the All-Star game. O’Neil Cruz has set the league on fire since his debut and looks to be a star of the future for Pittsburgh.

Since we last updated, the Pirates dropped three of four to Arizona, were swept by the Giants, dropped two of three to the Red Sox and Reds before getting swept by the Braves and dropping two of three to the Phillies, Brewers and getting swept by Toronto.

UP NEXT: This week, the Pirates have a tough week against the Mets and Cardinals.

Stay tuned all year for updates on the NL Central.

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