NL Central Weekly: Cubs drop to second place

by - Staff Writer -
Quinn Harris - USA Today Sports
Quinn Harris - USA Today Sports

We’re almost 80 games through the 2021 MLB season, and the NL Central has been plenty of fun to watch. Another week has come and gone in the NL Central, and the division has seen a lot of movement throughout. However, in a division with no clear favorite and an expectation of constant competition, the division has not disappointed in the slightest.

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

Milwaukee Brewers 45-33: After dropping down toward the middle of the pack in the division throughout May, the Brewers got healthy and received a bit of a scheduled break to battle back to first place in the NL Central. The Brewers have been boosted by excellent pitching performances from Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes — a three-headed monster that stacks up against anybody in the National League. As Christian Yelich and other members of this lineup return to action, expect the Brewers to keep pace in this tight division. The Brewers have taken advantage of playing some of the weaker teams in the MLB as of late, including this past week, as the Brewers took two out of three from the Diamondbacks and then swept the Rockies in Milwaukee over the weekend.

UP NEXT: This week, the Brewers finish June with three against the Cubs in Milwaukee and then travel to Pittsburgh for four over the 4th of July weekend.

Chicago Cubs 42-36 (3.0 games back): The Cubs sit three games back of first place after a wildly tough stretch. Despite struggling early in the season, the Cubs have been one of the best teams in the MLB over the last calendar month. The offense ranks near the tops on the MLB since April 17th, and during May, there was not a better bullpen in the majors than the one the Cubs had. However, the injury bug and offensive struggles have bit this team in a big way as of late. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have struggled, Patrick Wisdom has cooled off, and the Cubs need some offensive help.

The Cubs are still in the midst of a tough June slate; this past week, the Cubs split a two-game set with Cleveland at Wrigley and then dropped three of four to the Dodgers in LA over the weekend — despite No-hitting them to open the series.

UP NEXT: This week, the Cubs play the first-place Brewers for three in Milwaukee, have a much-needed day off, and then play Cincinnati for three over the Holiday weekend.

Cincinnati Reds 38-38 (6.0 games back): The Reds have seen some time leading the division, riding a hot offense to a strong start — and after a tough stretch are making strides back up in the division. 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, but Luis Castillo has been fantastic for the Reds over the last month.

Offensively, Jesse Winker has been phenomenal for the Reds. In addition, Nicholas Castellanos is a league leader and MVP candidate in the National League, keeping the Reds within striking distance in the NL Central. Since we last updated, the Reds split a two-game series with the Twins and a four gamer with the Braves over the weekend.

UP NEXT: The Reds have a makeup game against the Phillies on Monday, then host the Padres for three and welcome the Cubs for three over the weekend.

St. Louis Cardinals 37-41 (8.0 games back): After spending most of May in first place in the NL Central, the Cardinals have faltered a bit and sit in fourth place as we speak. The Cardinals have gotten a nice offensive boost from adding Nolan Arenado to an already solid lineup, and he has been hot lately. However, multiple injuries to the pitching staff, including Jack Flaherty, has been tough to recover from for the Red Birds. The bullpen is in shambles for St. Louis, and the Cardinals’ struggles continued, getting swept in a two-game series by the Tigers and dropping three out of four to the Pirates over the weekend.

UP NEXT: The Cardinals host the Diamondbacks for three to start the week and then travel to Colorado for four with the Rockies over the weekend.

Pittsburgh Pirates 25-45 (15.0 games back): The Pirates were widely expected to finish last in this division, and after a wildly impressive first few weeks, have fallen back into last place in the NL Central. However, regardless of placement in the division, the Pirates are definitely showing signs of improvement. The Pirates played pretty good baseball this week too, splitting a two-game series with the White Sox and taking three of four from the Cardinals in St. Louis over the weekend.

UP NEXT: The Pirates visit Colorado for three games with the Rockies and then host the Milwaukee Brewers for four over the holiday weekend.

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

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