NL Central Intelligence: A Look Around the Division for the Week of August 27
It's September! Time for the home stretch.
It’s time for the home stretch of the season, which means September call-ups and pre-midnight #WeirdBaseball. But before all that, it’s time to take a look at what happened in the Central.
- The Cubs look like the Cubs of old, which is bad news for the rest of baseball. The defending champs went 6-1 this week, improving to a season-best 15 games over .500 at 75-60.
- The Cubs now own the Major League record for most guys age 25 and under with 20+ home runs in a single season. Kris Bryant (25), has 25 bombs; Kyle Schwarber (24), has 24; Javy Baez (24) has 21; Willson Contreras (25) also has 2; Ian Happ (23) rounded out the club with his 20th dinger Wednesday night against the Pirates, which also made him the fastest Cub ever to reach the mark (89 games).
- Addison Russell suffered a setback in his foot injury and may be out another three weeks. This makes you wonder whether the Cubs just shut him down for the rest of the season.
- Minutes before the waiver-trade deadline, the Cubs acquired Leonys Martin from the Mariners. He will serve as a nice bench piece in September and possibly the postseason, coming to pinch run or play defense late in games.
- The Brewers will…not…go…away. The Crew went 4-2 this week to bring them to 71-65 on the season. Don’t look now, but they are just 1.5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot, and 4.5 back of the division lead.
- Last Sunday, August 27, the Brewers accomplished a rare feat. Not only did they beat the Dodgers, they won a series with the Dodgers…in Los Angeles. It was the Dodgers’ first series loss of any kind since early June.
- Keon Broxton continues to play a dazzling center field. This web gem ended the game on Wednesday:
- On Friday, the Brewers pitching staff struck out the Nationals 17 times en route to a 1-0 win.
St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cards’ .500 season continues and this is who they are. After posting a 3-3 record, the Birds sit at 68-67.
- Lance Lynn is making himself more money with every start. After Saturday’s game, his ERA now sits at 2.99, the second-lowest mark of his career. Not too shabby for a guy coming off Tommy John in 2016.
- It was a heartbreaking loss on Saturday for St. Louis. Two outs away from a win, Buster Posey blooped a game-tying single into right field and Nick Hundley hit a walk-off bomb the very next inning.
- Seung-Hwan Oh has filled in nicely in his return to the closer’s role. Oh registered his 20th save of the season on Thursday night.
- The Pirates have gotten to the point where they are just playing out the season. After a 2-4 week, including a sweep at the hands of the Cubs, the Bucs now sit at 64-72.
- It has been a dreadful second half for Ivan Nova. Since the break, Nova has pitched to a 6.38 ERA with a .332 opponent batting average and a .383 BABIP. This showed on Wednesday against the Cubs, as Nova gave up five runs in just three innings.
- Jordan Luplow had a special moment on Saturday night, hitting his first career home run in the 8th inning against the Reds. The Pirates won the game 5-0.
- Jameson Taillon spun a gem Saturday night as well, pitching six scoreless vs the Reds, giving up just three hits, walking one, and striking out four.
- The Redlegs went 3-3 this week and are bringing up the rear once again at 58-78.
- Joey Votto is just a genuine good person. After hitting a home run on Thursday, Votto took the jersey he was wearing and the bat he used to hit the homer and have them to a 6-year-old cancer patient sitting in the front row. Such an easy guy to root for.
- Billy Hamilton leads the majors in stolen bases at 58. That ties his career high and it’s kind of amazing how this guy has never stolen 60…yet. He should get there this year.
- The Reds may have found another starter for 2018 in Sal Romano. After three quality starts in a row, he seems to have found his groove and could join Luis Castillo in next year’s rotation.