NL Central Intelligence: A Look Around the Division for the Week of June 17

Not much change this week, but after watching this week’s games, the ebbs and flows of the baseball season have been particularly evident for some teams.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • At 45-31, the Crew owns a two game lead. They posted a 3-3 week.
  • Perhaps a developing story, Lorenzo Cain had to leave Saturday’s game against the Cardinals with an injured groin. Cain has been a catalyst for them all season and it will be interesting to see how they respond if he misses any time.
  • A bit of a quirky stat on Friday night. The Brewers were being no-hit by Jack Flaherty into the 7th inning, when Jesus Aguilar hit a home run to end the no-hitter and shutout. Two innings later, Aguilar hit a walk-off home run. Busting up a no-no and then a walk-off in the same night by the same guy? That has to be a rarity. Maybe Tim Kurkjian would know something about that.
  • Josh Hader update: 39.2 IP, 13 hits, 16 walks, 80 strikeouts(!), .101 BAA, 1.13 ERA. Why is he not closing games full-time?

Chicago Cubs

  • After a 2-5 week, the Cubs sit at 42-32, two games back of first place.
  • Hader is dominating. Brian Duensing? Not so much. Including Saturday, his first day back from the bereavement list, Duensing’s ERA is 19.06 over seven games. In his last 15 games, his ERA is 12.71. Rough stretch for the veteran.
  • Brandon Morrow has been added to the slew of Cubs’ pitchers already on the disabled list. He hurt his back by taking off his pants after Monday’s postponement,because of course he did, right?
  • Kyle Schwarber has taken over the team lead for home runs. He hit his 15th on Friday night against the Reds.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The Cards are reeling a bit. They had a 3-4 week and are just three games over .500 at 39-36.
  • Tommy Pham has been in a big slump recently. Over his past 30 games, Pham is slashing just .190/.221/.302. That peaked Saturday with a four-strikeout game against the Brewers.
  • It might be time to officially worry about Carlos Martinez. Since returning from the DL, Martinez has an 8.10 ERA in four starts. More alarming is that the 20 walks have come in 16.2 innings. Add that in with a .333 BAA, and it’s not a very good recipe.
  • One bright spot has been Flaherty. In his last start against the Brewers, he struck out 13 hitters, against two walks and now has a season ERA of 2.50 with 68 strikeouts in just 57.2 innings. If Martinez can regain form, those two become a dominant 1-2 punch moving forward.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • It has been a rough go of it for the Bucs lately. They went 1-5 this week, and drop four games under .500 at 36-40.
  • This has been mentioned here before, but Tyler Glasnow has found a home in the bullpen. He has pitched 32 innings there with 42 strikeouts.
  • At least Austin Meadows is still hitting, right? His current slash of .330/.357/.566 is good for a stay at the top of the lineup. He could stand to take a few more walks, however.
  • There was a fun moment before the Pirates game on Tuesday. Reliever Steven Brault sang the national anthem and he absolutely nailed it!

Cincinnati Reds

  • What a week for the Reds. They have won six in a row and are up to 31-45. Compared to some of the other teams in the majors, that doesn’t look so bad, does it?
  • Anthony DeSclafani hit his first major league home run on Saturday, a grand slam against the Cubs to put the Reds up 8-1 in the 3rd inning. He and the Reds would cruise from there.
  • So far in 23 at-bats, Curt Casali has been a great find. He is slashing .391/.440/.652. Aren’t small sample sizes fun?
  • In his last two starts, Sal Romano has pitched 15 innings and given up just one earned run. His ERA is still over five, which just shows how rough a patch he was in.
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