NL Central Weekly: Cubs still in fourth place


by - Staff Writer -
Schwindel continues to be fun to watch (David Banks - USA Today Sports)
Schwindel continues to be fun to watch (David Banks - USA Today Sports)

We’re nearing the close of the 2021 MLB season as the NL Central has been interesting to watch. The division has seen a lot of movement throughout, and teams are finally starting to settle into their divisional slots. In a division with no clear favorite and an expectation of constant competition, the division has not disappointed in the slightest — and some teams have gotten much stronger as the season continued.

We’re here to break down the action of the NL Central as we push toward the end of the year.

Milwaukee Brewers 91-58

Milwaukee has quietly accumulated over 90 wins. While most people have focused on the NL Wild Card race, the Brewers have continued to win. Midway through September, 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. Burnes is making a late-season push for Cy Young as well. Offensively, Christian Yelich, Omar Narvaez, and others continue to hit well. Willy Adames’ recent power surge has also boosted a Milwaukee team that acquired Eduardo Escobar at the trade deadline. Since we last updated, the Brewers took two of three from the Pirates, dropped two of three to the Giants, swept four from the Cubs, took two of three from the Pirates, Cardinals, Nationals, and Reds before dropping two of three to the Twins. Then the Brewers took three of four from the Giants, two of three from the Cardinals and Phillies, swept the Indians, and then were swept by the Tigers before taking two of three from the Cubs.

UP NEXT: This week, the Brewers host the second-place Cardinals for four and then host the Mets for three over the weekend.

St. Louis Cardinals 79-69 (11.5 games back)

After spending most of May in first place in the NL Central, the Cardinals faltered a bit. However, the Cardinals have been the best team in baseball in September. Adam Wainwright, despite being 42, is making a late-season push for Cy Young as the team has finally come together to win games.

Offensively, Nolan Arenado has over 30 homers and is approaching 100 RBIs, but contributions from all over have this team looking complete as the playoffs approach. This team has found its formula to win games. Since we last updated, the Cardinals were swept by the Braves, took two of three from the Royals, swept the Pirates, swept the Royals, lost two of three to the Brewers, lost two of three to the Pirates, split with the Tigers, split with the Pirates, took two of three from the Reds, lost two of three to the Brewers, split four with the Dodgers, took two of three from the Reds before sweeping the Mets and the Padres.

UP NEXT: This week, the Cardinals travel to the first-place Brewers for four and then visit the Cubs for four over the weekend.

Cincinnati Reds 77-73 (14.5 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 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 few months or two so. The Reds also added some pitching depth at the deadline. 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 Wild Card and representing Cincinnati in the all-star game. Castellanos is making a push for a batting title. Not to mention, Joey Votto has been one of the sport’s hottest hitters, winning NL Player of the Month in July and staying hot since then.

The Reds have also ridden some young talent to success as of late. Since we last updated, the Reds split with the Twins, swept the Pirates, lost a makeup game with the Indians before dropping two of three to the Braves, Phillies, and Cubs. The Reds then swept the Marlins for four and have lost every series since, losing two of three to the Brewers, Marlins, Cardinals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, and Dodgers.

UP NEXT: The Reds host the Pirates for three this week before taking on the Nationals for four this weekend.

Chicago Cubs 67-83 (24.5 games back)

The Cubs sit 13 games back of first place after a wildly tough stretch for the team and fans alike. Despite struggling early in the season, the Cubs were one of the best teams in the MLB during May and June. An 11-game losing streak in July derailed the Cubs potential playoff hopes and instead put the writing on the wall for the firesale that saw the Cubs send away Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Craig Kimbrel, Joc Pederson, Jake Marisnick, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Trevor Williams at the trade deadline and now look like a much different team. Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom have been fun to watch, but the Cubs are not the team they used to be — and a 12-game losing streak in August could tell you just that.

Since we last updated, the Cubs lost two of three to the Rockies, were swept by the Sox, Brewers, and Marlins before stopping their losing streak by winning two of three from the Reds. The Cubs then were swept by the Royals, took two of three from the Rockies, dropped two of three to the White Sox, swept the Twins and the Pirates before taking two of three from the Reds. The Cubs then were swept by the Giants and dropped two of three to the Phillies and Brewers.

UP NEXT: This week, the new-look Cubs host the Twins in Chicago and then host the rival Cardinals for four over the weekend.

Pittsburgh Pirates 56-93 (35.0 games back)

The Pirates were widely expected to finish last in this division, and after a wildly impressive first few weeks, they have fallen back into last place in the NL Central. Regardless of placement in the division, the Pirates show signs of improvement — with two Pirates starting in the all-star game, although Adam Frazier is a Padre. There has certainly been progress for the Pirates, but they are still a way away.

Since we last updated, the Pirates dropped two of three to the Brewers, were swept by the Reds and Cardinals before losing two of three to the Brewers. The Pirates were then swept by the Dodgers, took two of three from the Cardinals and Diamondbacks before splitting with the Cardinals. The Pirates then split with the sox, were swept by the Cubs, took two of three from the Tigers, Nationals, Reds, and Marlins.

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Cincinnati for three and then visit the Phillies for four over the weekend.

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

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