In the first 17 games post All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs were 14-3 and surged to the top of the NL Central. The prevailing thought in the baseball world was that Chicago would maintain the pace they started post-break, and run away with the division. The last week should give the rest of the NL Central hope that there will actually be a race to the wire. The defending world champs are 2-6 in their last eight games. The most concerning thing is that the teams second half MVP, catcher Wilson Contreras, injured his hamstring in yesterday’s 3-1 loss against the Giants.
The top three teams are separated by just 1.5 games in the National League Central division. The Brewers and Cardinals are 1.5 games back, and with the Contreras injury, the question is: which team is best positioned to overtake the Cubs and win the division?
The answer appears to be a pretty easy one: the St. Louis Cardinals. They appear to be finally hitting their stride. After a pretty mediocre first 100 games or so, St. Louis is 7-3 in their last 10 games. The offense has been key during their recent hot streak, scoring 58 runs during this 10 game stretch. St. Louis is also a very experienced team who knows what it takes to win late-season, high-pressure baseball games.
The Brewers appear to be fading since the All-Star break, winning just nine of their 26 games after the mid-Summer classic. Their strong first half appears to be a little bit of a mirage because they depend too much on the homer as their main form of offense. As the weather gets colder in September, the Brewers will struggle to score runs . The Cubs appear to have used up all their magic from their run in 2016. This year’s team appears to be missing something. It is just hard to figure out just what that is exactly. They’re undoubtedly the most talented team in the division, but talent doesn’t always guarantee success. It’s not their year.
All it will take is for one team to get really hot and win the NL Central. Don’t be shocked if St. Louis is the last one standing.