NL Central Weekly: Cubs fall to fourth place in division


by - Staff Writer -
The Cubs are now in fourth place (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)
The Cubs are now in fourth place (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)

We’re way past the halfway point here in the 2021 MLB season, and the NL Central has been plenty of fun to watch. The all-star break 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 in the slightest.

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

Milwaukee Brewers 56-40: After dropping down toward the middle of the pack in the division throughout May, the Brewers have gotten healthy and received a bit of a scheduled break to battle back to first place in the NL Central. Now as we enter the second half of the season, the Brewers own a commanding lead in the division. 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, all of whom were named to the all-star team this year. As Christian Yelich, Omar Narvaez, and others continue to hit well, expect the Brewers to keep pace in this division.

The Brewers opened up the second half by sweeping the Cincinnati Reds, growing their lead in the division to 7 games.

UP NEXT: This week the Brewers host the Kansas City Royals (they lost game one on Tuesday) and then host the White Sox for three over the weekend.

Cincinnati Reds 48-46 (7.0 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 or so. Offensively, Jesse Winker has been phenomenal for the Reds and Nicholas Castellanos is a league leader and MVP candidate in the National League, keeping the Reds within striking distance in the NL Central and representing Cincinnati in the all-star game. Since we last updated, the Reds were swept by the Brewers, spoiling a great chance to gain some ground in the NL Central.

UP NEXT: The Reds host the NL East-leading Mets for three (they lost game one on Monday) and stay at home for a weekend set with the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals 47-47 (8.0 games back):

After spending most of the month of May in first place in the NL Central, the Cardinals have faltered a bit and sit in a tie for third 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 have been tough to recover from for the Red Birds. The bullpen is in shambles for St. Louis but they have had a strong showing coming out of the all-star break. The Cardinals won two of three against the Giants to open the second half.

UP NEXT: The Cardinals host the Cubs for three (they took game one of the series) and then head to Cincinnati to take on the second-place Reds.

Chicago Cubs 46-48 (9.0 games back): The Cubs sit nine games back of first place after a wildly tough stretch. Despite struggling early in the season, the Cubs were one of the best teams in the MLB during May and June. The offense ranked near the tops on the MLB since April 17th, and during the month of 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. A total collapse that included an 11-game losing streak leaves this team in fourth place and looking for answers. The Cubs opened the second half winning two of three from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

UP NEXT: This week the Cubs are in St. Louis for three games (they lost game one) and then head back to Chicago and play host to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Pittsburgh Pirates 36-58 (19.0 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. Regardless of placement in the division, the Pirates are definitely showing signs of improvement — with two Pirates starting in this week’s all-star game. Since we last updated, the Pirates took two of three from the Mets in a very exciting series to begin the second half of the season.

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Arizona for three (they lost game one) and then travel to San Francisco for three with the first-place Giants over the weekend.

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

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