The National League Central has experienced intense parity in 2017. Or, you could also say that the NL Central is just a very mediocre division. At least that is how the records show it to be. Let’s take a moment to run down three NL Central teams, and take a look at where they stand at this moment.
The Milwaukee Brewers currently sit on top of with a record of 27-25, but they are going through their worst stretch of the season, winning just two of their past nine games. Many experts are wondering if this is the beginning of the Brewers fade. After all, the Brewers record is one of the bigger surprises of the season so far, and the fact that they are in first place, heading into June is almost shocking. Specifically, it’s been the pitching that has let them down over the last nine games. In total, Milwaukee has given up a total of 48 runs in the last nine games, including 42 in those seven losses. Outside of one of the two wins, their offense sputtered, scoring just 21 runs in the seven losses, and six of those runs came in one game. Eric Thames, who was “The Story” early in the 2017 baseball season, has really cooled off. After hitting 11 home runs in April, he has really struggled in May, hitting just two home runs, both of which came earlier in the month. Thames last two runs were back on May 9. He has hit just .203 for the month as well, and his average overall has dropped from .345 at the start of the month to .278 as of the morning of May 31. He needs to pick it up if the Brewers are going to stay in first place. The Brewers schedule doesn’t get any easier either. After they finish up this series with the Mets, they have three at home this weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment, having won six in a row, and have surged into first place in the National League West. After that, they Brew Crew has four more games at home against the San Francisco Giants, whose struggles so far in 2017 have been well documented. But, they are the Giants, and they could come to life at any moment. After that long home stand, they hit the road for seven games. The first three games are against the Diamondbacks, and the next four will be against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fortunately for the Brewers, the Chicago Cubs aren’t doing any better at the moment. The Cubs currently sit at 25-26, good for second place, and have lost five in a row. For the Cubs, that high-priced, overpaid starting rotation, has failed miserably to this date. Jon Lester is not what he once was, and Kyle Hendricks is not dominating like he did a year ago. Jake Arrieta is too focused on his upcoming free agent contract negotiations, led by the well known and highly criticized super agent Scott Boras. During their five-game losing streak, all of which have been on the road, the bats have gone dead silent for the Cubs. They have scored just eight runs in the last three games, and in their first two they were shut out. Kris Bryant, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, is really struggling. He was batting just .130 over the last week. After they finish up their series in San Diego, the Cubs get to come home for 10 games. The first three are against the Miami Marlins, the next three are against the St. Louis Cardinals, and the last four against the Colorado Rockies.
Then we have the St. Louis Cardinals a team who’s offense has been stuck in park for the first two months. As for pitching, their rotation has been spotty at best, and their bullpen has been on and off. Yet, here they are, sitting at 24-25, just 1.5 games out of first place. How do they manage that? If you look at their game by game record so far this season, they rarely lose close games. That is the mark of an organization that keeps the faith, as the innings run down. However, one can’t ignore that they are just 3-10 in their last 13 games. Nobody is hitting. Their best hitter, Matt Carpenter, is batting just .226 for the season, and Randall Grichuk, who they expected to take a big jump, is batting just .222 with four home runs and 19 RBI’s. They need to start hitting, or they will find themselves way behind the Cubs or Brewers. At the time of this post, they have two more games against the Dodgers, and then the Cardinals hit the road for seven. The first three are against the Cubs, and the next four are against the Reds. This “parity” is short lived. One of these teams will break from the pack. Most likely, the Cards and Cubs will be the two teams to rise above the rest of the NL Central. For now, Brewers fans should celebrate. Heck, we might even see them keep the pace until the All Star Break, but don’t bet on it. Two powerhouse teams can’t be held back for too long.