NL Central Weekly: Cubs continue to fall in standings


by - Staff Writer -
Cubs are currently four games back in the division (Matt Marton - USA Today Sports)
Cubs are currently four games back in the division (Matt Marton - USA Today Sports)

Another week or so has come and gone in the NL Central, and the division has seen a lot of movement throughout. In a division with no clear favorite and an expectation of constant competition, the division has not disappointed.

We’re here to break down the action of the NL Central:

Milwaukee Brewers 14-9

The Brewers are the only team in the division not to have double-digit losses on the season, and their pitching staff is a huge reason why. Corbin Burns is off to a historically dominant start, with over 40 strikeouts and zero walks. In addition, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff round out the division’s top starting rotation, and the bullpen boasts Devin Williams and Josh Hader. Milwaukee hasn’t had to put many runs on the board to win, and a lineup that has added Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley Jr. have been good at manufacturing runs.

Since we last recapped, the Brewers took two of three from the Cubs, dropped two of three to Pittsburgh, swept the up-and-coming Padres in San Diego, took two of three from the Cubs, and has split two of three games against Marlins so far.

UP NEXT: After finishing the series with Miami, the Brewers will host the Dodgers for four games before heading on the road next week for the series against the Phillies and the Marlins again.

Pittsburgh Pirates 12-11 (2 games back)

The Pirates were widely expected to finish last in this division but have been wildly impressive so far. The Pirates are on pace to win more games than they will lose this year, and although it is early, that is a great sign for this rebuilding franchise. Regardless of placement in the division, the Pirates are definitely showing signs of improvement.

The Pirates have had a pretty strong last week or so. The Pirates took two of three from the Padres, Brewers, Tigers, and Twins. The Pirates also took the first of a two-game series between the Royals.

UP NEXT: This weekend, the Pirates host the Cardinals and then travel to San Diego for three against the Padres and to Chicago to take on the Cubs.

St. Louis Cardinals 12-11 (2 games back)

Of all the teams that could be called a favorite to win this division, the Cardinals were the closest to it. It has been a rocky start for the Cardinals, but as the team gets healthy and Nolan Arenado gets acclimated to his new team, I expect the Cardinals to keep winning games. However, the Cards and their pitching staff will have to get it down without future Hall of Fame Yadier Molina, who will be sidelined for the near future with an injury.

The Cardinals have had a fairly average last two weeks. The Cardinals dropped two of three to the Nationals, Phillies, and then Nationals again. After that, the Cardinals swept the reds at home and have split the first two games of a three-game series with Philadelphia.

UP NEXT: This weekend, the Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates. Next week, the Cardinals host the Mets for four and the Rockies for three.

Cincinnati Reds 11-12 (3 games back)

The last time we updated, the Reds were atop the division, riding a hot offense to a strong start. Last season, it was all about pitching for the Reds — and the team is still waiting for some strides to be made on that side of the ball. Nicholas Castellanos’ suspension for playing a passionate brand of baseball has been a popular storyline for this ball club early on as well.

Since we last updated, the Reds took two of three from the Giants and Indians in a battle of Ohio. After that, the reds dropped six straight games to the Diamondbacks and Cardinals. However, they have rebounded nicely, taking the first two of a three-game series with the reigning champion Dodgers.

UP NEXT: This weekend, the Reds host the Cubs, and next week host the White Sox and travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians.

Chicago Cubs 10-13 (4 games back)

The Cubs have been a very rocky team so far in 2021. It’s been shaky in the starting rotation except for Jake Arietta, and the bullpen has been a bright spot — highlighted by closer Craig Kimbrel who has not yet given up a run. The offense has days of explosions for 12, 15, or 16 runs — but just as often gets shut out and only musters a hit or two. The inconsistency has been on full display early on, and the Cubs are beginning to face injuries from Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. However, the Cubs have also called Nico Hoerner back up to the team, and he has performed great thus far.

Since the last time we recapped it, the Cubs lost two of three to the Brewers and then two to the Braves. After that, the Cubs swept the Mets and won the opening game of their series with the Brewers 15-2 to close the gap in the division to just a game. But since then, the Cubs have dropped four in a row — two to Milwaukee and the first two of a series with the Braves in Atlanta.

UP NEXT: The Cubs have two more to play with the Braves before heading to Cincinnati for a weekend series with the Reds. Next week, the Cubs take on the Dodgers and Pirates on a week-long homestand as they look to get back into the NL Central Standings.

Stay tuned as we periodically update you all on the status of the NL Central.

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