NL Standings Weekly: Cubs in first place after epic May


by - Staff Writer -
The Cubs are in first place in NL Central (Kamil Krzaczynski - USAT)
The Cubs are in first place in NL Central (Kamil Krzaczynski - USAT)

As June begins and the baseball season has trudged past Memorial Day, the NL Central has continued to turn heads. Another week has come and gone in the NL Central, and the division has seen a lot of movement throughout. But, 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 after about a third of the 2021 MLB season.

Chicago Cubs 30-23: For the first time all season, the Cubs stand alone in first place in the NL Central. By virtue of the best month in the National League, the Cubs made up more than 5 games in just one calendar month. Since April 17th, the Cubs rank near the tops in the MLB in every offensive category — thanks to guys like Kris Bryant slashing .324/.406/.610 and Javier Baez hitting 13 homers and almost 40 runs driven in. The real bright spot from this team has been its bullpen, which during the middle of May, turned in almost 40 consecutive scoreless innings. The Cubs have been getting contributions from all over and sit in first place because of it. Since we last updated, the Cubs swept the Pirates and took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. The Cubs also opened this week with a Memorial Day victory over San Diego.

UP NEXT: The Cubs are at home for three with the Padres and then travel to San Francisco for four games against the NL West-leading Giants.

St. Louis Cardinals 30-24 (.5 games back): While it is apparent that the Cardinals were the division’s favorite heading into the season — and they have looked like it at times — struggles in May allowed the Cubs to make up five games of ground and take over the division lead. Nolan Arenado has impressed in his first season with the Cards, and a strong pitching staff has kept the Cardinals playing, winning ball early in 2021. Since we last updated, the Cardinals dropped two of three to the White Sox and then took two of three from the Diamondbacks over the weekend. The Cards also opened this week with a Memorial Day loss against the Dodgers.

UP NEXT: The Cardinals finish their series with the reigning champion Dodgers and then host the Reds for four games over the weekend.

Milwaukee Brewers 29-25 (1.5 games back): The Brewers had their fair share of struggles during May, dropping from near the top of the division to back toward the middle of the pack. However, over their last ten games, the Brewers have made some strides and have gone 8-2 during that period. Of course, getting Christian Yelich back from injury helps, but having two bonafide Cy Young contenders in your rotation in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes is what makes the difference. Certainly, keep an eye on the Brewers as the season continues. Since we last talked, Milwaukee split a four-game series with the Padres and then swept the Nationals over the weekend. They also opened this week with a win over the Tigers on Memorial Day.

UP NEXT: Milwaukee has one more to play against Detroit and then hosts the Diamondbacks for four games over the weekend.

Cincinnati Reds 24-28 (5.5 games back): The Reds have seen some time leading the division, riding a hot offense to a strong start — but have since dropped off considerably. 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. Offensively, Jesse Winker has been phenomenal for the Reds, and Nicholas Castellanos is a league leader and MVP candidate in the national league. Since we last updated, the Reds took two of three from the Nationals and dropped two of three to the Cubs. They also opened up this week with an 11-1 win over the Phillies on Memorial Day.

UP NEXT: This week, the Reds finish their series with the Phillies and then head to St. Louis for a weekend set with the Cardinals.

Pittsburgh Pirates 20-33 (10 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 standings. However, regardless Regardless of placement in the division, the Pirates are definitely showing signs of improvement. Since we last talked, the Pirates were swept by the Cubs and then took two of three from the Rockies. The Pirates also dropped game one of a two-game set with Kansas City on Memorial Day.

UP NEXT: This week, the Pirates will play one more with the Royals before hosting the Marlins for four over the weekend.

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

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