St. Louis Cardinals: Taking a quick peek at the NL Central race

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Lane Thomas #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by his teammates after hitting home run against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Lane Thomas #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by his teammates after hitting home run against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on August 25, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The division race is red hot at the moment, with the St. Louis Cardinals in the lead but without much breathing room. How are other teams in the Central?

It’s that time of the season; with the regular season winding down, the NL Central race is seriously starting to heat up. The St. Louis Cardinals are currently in the lead, but they can’t get too comfortable with Chicago and Milwaukee right on their tail.

A lot of people have been saying that the NL Central has been by far the most disappointing division; especially after receiving a lot of hype going into the season. The statement is true though, all of the NL Central powerhouses have underperformed and the Cincinnati Reds have also been a huge bust after having a huge offseason.

Though the division has been underwhelming, it is still one of the only divisions that aren’t currently basically locked up; along with the AL Central; but that’s just a two-team race between the Twins and Indians.

There are currently three teams in the hunt for the NL Central and the second-place finisher could very well get a Wild Card spot.

Every team has its weakness, but for each of these teams; it seems more of a liability than a weakness.

With the Cardinals, their weakness is obviously offense. They rank in the bottom three in the NL in many relevant statistical categories. There have been multiple games where Cardinals starters shelled out absolute gems, but the inability to give them run support has resulted in a crushing loss.

With the Cubs, their weakness is their bullpen; and it’s a painful one. Their bullpen has blown a total of 24 saves, compare that to the Cardinals 11. Those 24 blown saves total 2nd in all of the NL, just behind the Washington Nationals. They even signed 7x All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to a contract, and that signing hasn’t been amazing for Chicago either; as he currently owns a 4.96 ERA on the season.

The Cubs also struggle mightily on the road, going 25-39 outside of Wrigley. Losing series to teams they should be sweeping, it’s been brutal to watch for Cubs fans, and they could even be in danger of missing the playoffs because of it. Crazy for a team that was supposed to be “Baseball’s next Dynasty.”

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It’s pretty obvious what the Brewers weakness is; their pitching. They have a pretty solid lineup with studs like Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas rookie Keston Hiura, and you know, the reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich. Their pitching has held them back from being successful this season, totaling 11th in the NL in team ERA.

The Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates are both far out of the division race, and it seems like both teams are looking ahead for better pastures in the 2020 season. The Reds did have an active Trade Deadline though; trading for Cleveland Indians ace Trevor Bauer and could be poised to be a threat next season.

Currently, the St. Louis Cardinals lead the NL Central by three games, with the Cubs in second and the Brewers in third. Though the Cardinals have been on a solid run and could start to pull away, this race is nowhere near done, and even the Brewers; who are six games behind, can heat up and make a run for the division title; like they did last season against the Cubs.

The Cardinals and the Brewers are in the midst of a three-game series, with the Cardinals decimating the Brewers in the first game by a score of 12-2. The Cardinals did everything right, crushing Brewers pitching and pitching around Christian Yelich, who has absolutely clobbered Cardinals pitching at Miller Park.

The Chicago Cubs head to New York to take on a red hot Mets team after getting swept at Wrigley by the Washington Nationals. The Cubs lineup will be faced with a huge challenge as they draw the three top arms in a stacked Mets rotation.

They face the grand prize of the Trade Deadline Marcus Stroman on Tuesday night, Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday night, and reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on Thursday night. So we could very well see the Cubs bats go dead over the next three days.

After those series, the Cubs and Brewers will face off at Wrigley Field and could be a season deciding series for both of those teams. The Cardinals will face the Reds at Busch Stadium in a four-game series, with a doubleheader on Saturday making up for a rainout back in early June.

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Now that the division race is on fire, it’s time to start scoreboard watching and becoming temporary fans of the teams that are facing the Cubs and Brewers. Remember that every game counts, and for every game the Cardinals lose, that could be a game that shrinks the division lead. So, here’s to the Cardinals making a push for their first playoff appearance since 2015.