The Brewers hold a half game lead in an increasingly three team division; Reds are good but not good enough; Cubs blaze through an eight game winning streak; Pirates rise from the bottom of the basement; and the Cardinals relapse. Here’s the goings-on in the week that was.
1: Cincinnati Reds (58-49, 0.5 GB)
The Reds are 7-3 over their last 10 games. Without checking, I seldom know what any other Red does because everyone’s — and I mean everyone’s — Twitter (or X?) profile tells me how fast Elly De La Cruz is, or how hard he hit the ball. I suspect even if the Reds lost 20 straight games, we’d still see what De La Cruz has been doing.
Reds split the first two of three in Los Angeles. They’ll head back to the midwest after Sunday’s tilt for four in Chicago against the Cubs, then it’s home for three against Washington.
What to watch: It’s true that Luke Weaver has a 6.80 ERA. It’s also true that he’s only recorded five decisions on 18 starts this season. But what’s also also true is that the Reds have a winning record (11-7) in Weaver starts, including wins in games where the righty gave up seven, six, and five (x3) runs.
2: Milwaukee Brewers (57-49, - 0.5 GB)
After taking two out of three early in the week against the Reds to remain in first place, the Brewers were swept in Atlanta. For Milwaukee, there’s the obvious challenge faced by Cincinnati, and increasingly it seems as though the Cubs may work their way into the picture.
Brewers head to Washington for three, then it’s home to face Pittsburgh for four.
What to watch: Julio Teheran had a difficult run-in with his former team Saturday. The veteran righty had been a nice story for the Brewers starting rotation over his first six starts. Now, in his last five, Teheran has given up nine, one, four, six, and seven earned runs — the aberration in that set coming against the Braves.
3: Chicago Cubs (53-52, 4 GB)
The Cubs are the hottest team in Major League Baseball right now, and the only club with a winning streak greater than three games. Heading into their finale in St. Louis, Chicago has captured eight straight games, catapulting their run differential to +60, still the only positive mark in the division.
Cubs get Cincinnati for four and Atlanta for three, all at home.
What to watch: Kyle Hendricks pitches for Chicago Sunday afternoon in a bid to keep the winning streak alive. With a 3.45 ERA on the year, the Dartmouth educated veteran has only given up more than three runs twice this season (4 and 5 ER), both of which came in the month of July, against the Yankees and Red Sox, respectively.
4: Pittsburgh Pirates (47-58, 10 GB)
With the worst run differential in the division (-73), the Pirates currently occupy the pretty uncomfortable position of fourth place. 5-5 over their last 10, the Pirates have shown glimpses of a major league club. With the season more or less over from a competition standpoint, the organization has dumped its bevy of MLB-ready prospects into the mix.
Pirates play two against Detroit, then four in Milwaukee.
What to watch: Trade watch. The Pirates are one of a handful of teams in baseball who are expected to move what pieces they can. While unlikely, trade candidates do seem to pop up on my timeline in the version of Mitch Keller and David Bednar. Independent of those two players — and with Carlos Santana already in Milwaukee — we’ll have to wait and see how the roster looks after Monday.
5: St. Louis Cardinals (47-60, 11 GB)
The Cardinals have lost three straight and have played the worst, by record, of any team in the division over their last 10 games (3-7). Unable to gain any traction against the Cubs, St. Louis has lost six of their last seven games against Chicago.
Cardinals get Minnesota for three, then Colorado for three, all at Busch Stadium.
What to watch: The Cardinals have announced that they have no plans to sell-off during this deadline, and instead hope to continue charging into the future. Whether that plan will bear fruit remains to be seen, but the hope — I assume — in St. Louis is that this year is an oddity, and that next year the club will get back to its competitive ways.