Vol. 2: NL Central Weekly Wrap-Up
The season is now two weeks old, and the NL Central still looks as bleak as ever. It isn’t expected to change anytime soon either. From the call-up of Cubs’ Bryant to the dismal Brew Crew, the Central never gets boring.
It was a big week for the Cubs with top-prospect Kris Bryant finally getting the call. Although Bryant didn’t start off too well (3 hits, 4 strikeouts,) the Cubs still had a decent week. They took the first series 2-1 against the Reds, winning games one and three 7-6 and 5-0 respectively. The San Diego Padres series didn’t go as planned, only winning 1 of 3, but there was a lot to take from this short time frame.
Jorge Soler finally hit his first 2 homers of the season, and both came in the opener against the Reds. Anthony Rizzo had a well-rounded week, hitting 1 homer, batting .318, and stealing 2 bases. Even Miguel Montero hit a pair of dongs. The offense was on point for sure.
As for the pitching, the same cannot be said. Jon Lester had not one, but two bad outings over the week. Jake Arrieta could not repeat his start from last week, and the rest just simply weren’t solid. The Cubs will have the Pirates and Reds this week to figure out what is wrong with the starting rotation.
It was a tough week for the Reds when they visited Chicago and St. Louis. In the Cubs series, Cincy left with only 1 win. As for St. Louis, the Reds are in jeopardy of getting swept, as the game has/had not been played at the time of publication. The previous two games were lost 1-6 and 2-5.
The hot starts from Todd Frazier and Billy Hamilton were short-lived, as Frazier hit a whopping .143 and Hamilton only stole 1 base. Joey Votto was the only one to continue the production, hitting .375 and drawing 6 walks. His OBP so far this year is .480. Zack Cozart had the best week of them all though, batting .500 and only striking out 1 time. We don’t know if Cozart can finally turn things around and hit consistently, but the Reds would definitely benefit greatly.
Anthony DeSclafani was the only Reds pitcher to have a win last week, going 7 shutout innings against the Cubs. Johnny Cueto got roughed up by the Cardinals, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. He did strikeout 10 batters, but it wasn’t enough for the victory. The Reds will play at Milwaukee to begin the week and end with the Cubs at home.
Another terrible week has gone by for the Brewers. First, the Brew Crew lost 2 games to 1 against the Cardinals, then they got swept by the Pirates. It could be a long, long season for the Brewers, especially in the stacked NL Central where the division winner will have 90 wins easily.
Jean Segura had a fine week, getting 8 hits in 6 games. Constant singles won’t change the fate of the team, but it’s a start. Carlos Gomez hit the only Brewers home run of the week, doing very little after that. Khris Davis and Ryan Braun had average weeks, but that is clearly not enough to win games.
Matt Garza grabbed the only win of the week with his 5.2 inning performance against the Cards. Getting consistent production from the likes of Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, and Garza is crucial to any success the Brewers might have, but right now, they aren’t getting it.
Coming off a rocky opening week, the Pirates rebounded quite well. Though they lost 2 of 3 to the Detroit Tigers, the Bucs ended the week by sweeping the Brewers.
The bats have yet to fully awaken from the winter. Josh Harrison led the way with 7 hits and 4 runs. Pedro Alvarez hit 2 home runs, but accounted to just 2 other hits. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte also seem to be struggling early on, but with how well the pitching staff has been, they can take their time getting back to form.
The ace of the staff, Gerrit Cole, was outstanding this week, earning 2 wins in 12 innings worth of work. A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano also had good starts, even though they didn’t receive the wins. Jeff Locke, who was teetering on the edge of being named a starter, went 8 innings against Milwaukee. If the rotation can continue to keep the Pirates in ballgames, then this division could be theirs to win.
Heading into the week, the Cardinals were considered the favorites in the Central. After taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers and possibly sweeping the Reds, they still are the favorites.
The headliner here is Matt Carpenter. He led the NL Central in hits with 10, 7 of which were doubles, and drove in 5 RBIs. Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday also enjoyed a productive week. Kolten Wong struggled mightily though, but was picked up by his teammates this week.
Adam Wainwright, surprisingly, got the loss in the Cards’ only defeat against the Brewers. Carlos Martinez looks to be in good form though, as he allowed just 1 run in his win over the Reds. John Lackey, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn followed suit, allowing just 1 run in each start.
Position Player of the Week: Matt Carpenter– .454 BA, 7 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Pitcher of the Week: Gerrit Cole– 2-0, 12 IP, 2.25 ERA, 14 SO
1. St. Louis Cardinals– 7-3*
2. Chicago Cubs– 6-5
3. Pittsburgh Pirates– 6-6
4. Cincinnati Reds– 5-6*
5. Milwaukee Brewers– 2-10
*Reds and Cardinals play on Sunday Night Baseball. Stats are not included for this game.