NL Central Standings: Cubs in first place by 3.5 games
|Monday, August 31, 2020, 7:28 PM- -|
It is another Monday, and another off day for the Chicago Cubs, so that gives us at CubsHQ an excellent opportunity to check in on the state of the National League Central.
Monday is also trade deadline day; it appears the Pirates will be sellers for sure, the Brewers are looking to sell at the right price, and the Cardinals, Reds, and Cubs will all be buyers but not too aggressive. As for the other division that these teams will play, the Twins and White Sox will likely be aggressive buyers, the Indians will buy some and sell some, the Tigers still haven't made up their minds, and the Royals will sell.
The point is, there is a chance that a high percentage of these ten rosters will look much different when we update this article again — as you already see with the Cubs acquiring lefty-masher and former Cardinal Jose Martinez from the Rays and the Indians trading young fireballer Mike Clevinger to the Padres for a slew of prospects.
On the Covid-19 front, *knock on wood*, the league has avoided any other outbreaks, and the positive tests have been dropping rapidly. But that doesn't mean games haven't been postponed. This last week and a half has included multiple postponements due to inclement weather, and many cancellations due to social unrest and protesting as part of the Black Lives Matter and another police killing in Wisconsin last week.
With that being said, most teams have played a bunch of games since the last time we updated this, so let's take a look at where the NL Central Stands.
The week that was and the week that will be.
Cubs 20-14 (3.5 game lead)
The Cubs remain comfortably in first place after another week plus of baseball. The Cubs are the only team in the division above .500. Kris Bryant is injured, and the Cubs have dealt with multiple blows to the pitching staff. However, an offense anchored by the outfielders (Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Heyward) keeps this Cubs team afloat, despite the lack of production from Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Willson Contreras. Home runs are starting to come in bunches for this team, which is scary, and Yu Darvish is a favorite for NL Cy Young.
Last weekend, the Cubs lost a hard-fought series with the White Sox, where the White Sox outscored the Cubs 18-7 across the three games, where the Cubs were only able to win one game. In the next pair of series, the Cubs lost two of three to the Tigers and split two and two with the Reds. The Cubs' last three losses have been one-run stingers that they either could not complete the comeback in the final inning or blew a lead. The Cubs are off today and then head to Pittsburgh for a three gamer with the Pirates. After that, the Cubs host St. Louis for a five-game series, including a doubleheader on Saturday, Sunday night baseball on Sunday, and a makeup game on Monday.
Cardinals 12-13 (3.5 GB)
If you want to talk about an up and down season, the Cardinals are your team. The birds had a 17 day lay off due to a coronavirus outbreak in their clubhouse, and they have since been playing a schedule filled with doubleheaders. The Cardinals have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league, which has allowed them to cope as best as possible to a shifted schedule to squeeze 55 games into 44 days. Although the offense has struggled to get going for the Cardinals, the pitching staff's depth has been able to keep the Cardinals hovering around .500. The Cardinals took three of four from the scuffling Reds two weekends ago, and last week took two of three from the Royals, got swept in a doubleheader by the Pirates, and lost two of three to the Indians over the weekend. This week the Cardinals play the Reds for three in Cincinnati and then travel to Wrigley for five games with the Cubs.
Brewers 15-18 (4.5 GB)
The Brewers have had one of the league's worst offenses to mix with the league's best bullpens. On top of that, they're starting rotation has been incredibly mediocre. A team that boasts one of the best players the league offers in Christian Yelich, and one of the most exciting young players in Keston Heuira, has yet to see those players produce thus far. The Brewers stayed relatively quiet at the trade deadline and are hoping for another patented Brewers' late-season September push for a playoff spot among eight. Two weekends ago, the Brewers got swept by the Pirates. Last week the Crew split a four-game series with the Reds and then won two out of three from Pittsburgh over the weekend. This week the Pirates are in town for a game, and then Milwaukee hosts the Tigers for two and then goes to Cleveland for three.
Reds 15-19 (5.0 GB)
The Reds have been one of the most disappointing teams in 2020. After a very loud offseason, the offense has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Despite Nicholas Castellanos being off to a hot start, the Reds additions have not been all that special. Joey Votto was even benched due to poor performance but seems to be nearing a hot streak. As for the pitching staff, it has been one of the bests in the entire sport. Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo have made for one of the leagues best top threes of any rotation, but it hasn't been enough for the Reds to get over .500. Two weekends ago, the Reds lost three or four against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Last week the Reds split a four-game series with the Brewers and followed that up by splitting a four gamer with the Cubs. This week the Reds take on the Cardinals for three and then head to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates for four games.
Pirates 10-21 (8.5 GB)
The Pirates seem to have officially grabbed the title of worst team in baseball, and it's not even that close currently. There have been a few feel-good stories for the Bucs, but the team has been mostly a dumpster fire, as expected for a team desperate to rebuild. Josh Bell was one of the team's lone bright spots last year and has struggled this far. The teams been so underwhelming that they struggled to sell at the deadline. Last week had some success for the Pirates, but it was limited. Two weekends ago, the Pirates swept the Brewers. Last week, the Pirates were swept by the White Sox in a two-game set, and then the Pirates swept the Cardinals in a doubleheader. Over the weekend, the Pirates lost two of three to the Brewers. This week the Pirates play the Brewers for one game and then host the Cubs for three. Over the weekend, the Pirates take on the Reds for four at home.
As the NL Central standings come into place with most of the season behind us, let's take a look at the loaded AL Central division that these five teams have been playing all year long.
Chicago White Sox 21-13
Cleveland Indians 21-13
Minnesota Twins 20-15
Detroit Tigers 16-16
Kansas City Royals 13-21