Central Intelligence: Week of May 21

With nearly two full months — almost one-third for the fractionally inclined — of the season is complete, it’s time to start casting All-Star votes and ranking first-half MVP candidates. Maybe this look at the goings on in the Central for the last week will help with that (teams listed in order of standings).

Milwaukee Brewers

  • The Brewers seem to have fallen back to earth a little, posting a 1-5 record and going to 26-23 overall.
  • What a difference a start makes. On Sunday, Chase Anderson got absolutely boat-raced by the Cubs, giving up 6 ER in 4 innings. On Saturday, Anderson carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Diamondbacks, snapping the Brewers’ five-game losing streak.
  • The month of May has not been kind to Eric Thames, who has posted just a .194/.333/.328 line. That’s a stellar OBP but the hits have disappeared and he will need to make some adjustments.
  • Jett Bandy may be having himself a breakout season. He is currently slashing .280/.345/.520 with six home runs.

Chicago Cubs

  • The Cubs went 4-3 this week and currently sit at 25-23.
  • Recently finishing a 7-2 homestand, the Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Giants. That homestand included a 470 foot moonshot from Kyle Schwarber and a near “Maddux” game from Jon Lester.
  • Wade Davis’s scoreless streak is over at 17.2 innings. Mac Williamson gave Davis his first dinger allowed since 2015 on Wednesday night in a 5-4 Cubs win.
  • Eddie Butler has not been terrible during his short stint with the Cubs. Not great, either, but passable. His first masterful start against the Cardinals was followed up with a clunker against the Brewers. In his latest start against the Giants, Butler went 5 innings of one-run ball and is pitching to a 1.93 ERA.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The Cardinals went 3-3 on the week, keeping them two games over .500 at 24-22
  • Mike Leake is dominating the NL, still, to the tune of a 1.91 ERA so far, the best in the NL among qualified pitchers (Alex Wood has a 1.69 but without enough IP).
  • With Dexter Fowler’s struggles, Mike Matheny mentioned earlier this week he may move him down in the order. This is something to keep an eye on moving forward.
  • Tommy Pham is making the most of this big league stint, trying to make an impression. Pham was slashing .310/.382/.534 headed into Saturday’s game and promptly got three hits along with a dinger.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Posted a .500 week, at 3-3, and they now sit at 23-25. The Reds just don’t seem to want to go away.
  • Zack Cozart posted a four-hit game on Saturday for the third time in his career as his stellar year continues. Cozart has a .355/.433/.592 line. All are career high marks for him, though we’re still at a very early point in the season.
  • The Reds, of all teams, gave Cody Allen his first blown save of the year on Wednesday. They fought back to score two in the 9th inning, defeating the Indians 4-3.
  • Scott Schebler’s power surge continues. He sits at 14 home runs to lead the Reds entering Sunday’s game.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Went 4-3, improving them to 23-27 on the year.
  • The Bucs accomplished one of the rarest feats ever on Wednesday night, launching back-to-back-to back home runs in extra innings. First, David Freese hit a two run shot, followed by solo shots from Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer.
  • Those weren’t the only heroics this week for Buccos, as John Jaso got the game-tying and walkoff hits on Saturday against the Mets, who continue to be a trainwreck in their own right.
  • Ivan Nova has had a career rebirth since becoming a Pirate. Nova currently sports a 2.83 ERA with a 3.19 FIP. The Pirates got a bargain on a three-year deal with Nova if he keeps this up.
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