Central Intelligence: A Look Around the Division for Week of July 28

There are just two months to go in the season and the NL Central race looks to be a tight one until the very end. Here is a recap of the week that was.

Chicago Cubs

  • It’s a tale of two teams for the Cubs, who are dominant at home, and can’t get out of their own way on the road. After a 4-2 week, the Cubs are still holding onto first place by a half-game over the Cardinals with a 59-51 record.
  • The trade deadline was a successful one for Chicago. Reliever David Phelps was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for depth in the bullpen, Tony Kemp was acquired from the Astros for Martín Maldonado — since the Cubs didn’t need catching depth at the time — and Nicholas Castellanos came over from the Tigers in a deal that was finalized 40 seconds before the deadline. It’s up to the players to play now.
  • Cole Hamels returned on Saturday to help the rotation down the stretch, pitching five scoreless innings as the Cubs took the series from the Brewers.
  • Willson Contreras may have been bitten by the injury bug again. After a lineout on Saturday, he came up limping and holding his hamstring. An MRI is scheduled for Monday.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • A 2-3 week leaves the Birds at 58-51.
  • This team could desperately use another starting pitcher or bullpen arm, but they did not do much at the trade deadline. Jedd Gyorko was traded to the Dodgers for relief pitcher Tony Cingrani and Jeffry Abreu, the former of whom is on the 60-day IL. The bullpen did get some help, though not in the form of a trade, as Adalberto Mejia was claimed off waivers from the Angels and Mike Mayers was activated off the 60-day injured list.
  • The St. Louis lineup got even deeper on Saturday, as Marcell Ozuna was activated off of the injured list as well. The Cards seem to be getting healthy again right in time.
  • Adam Wainwright might have the most drastic home/road splits in a long time. He has a 2.26 ERA at Busch Stadium and a 7.16 ERA away from it.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Milwaukee lost 5 of 6 this week and are suddenly hovering just around .500 at 57-55.
  • It was a weird trade deadline for the Crew, who traded 2018 All-Star Jesus Aguilar to the Rays and acquired Drew Pomeranz from the Giants and Jordan Lyles from the Pirates. A team that really needs pitching to take the next step just didn’t get enough.
  • Speaking of pitching, Josh Hader is indeed human. He has given up 11 home runs this season in just 52.1 innings after giving up just nine dingers in 81.1 innings last season. Is it the juiced ball or is Hader just getting figured out?
  • Trent Grisham, a breakout outfield prospect, was called up after the trade deadline to make his debut. Grisham hit 26 home runs in the minor leagues.

Cincinnati Reds

  • A 4-3 week has the Reds in fourth place at 51-58.
  • Cincinnati pulled off the shocker of the trade deadline, acquiring Trevor Bauer from the Indians in a three-team trade that sent top prospect Taylor Trammell to the Padres and Yasiel Puig to the Indians. Franmil Reyes of the Padres also went to Cleveland in the deal. With a rotation of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, the Reds are going to try and make a run for 2020.
  • Aristides Aquino was called up to replace Puig and made an immediate impact with his first career home run, a game-tying three-run shot in the 7th inning on Saturday night.
  • The Reds and Pirates got into a gigantic brawl during their series with multiple suspensions handed out, and you really need to see this to believe it.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • The second half slide is continuing for the Bucs, as a 2-4 week drops them to 48-62.
  • Starling Marte recorded his second consecutive 20 home run season with a 9th-inning shot on Saturday.
  • Jung Ho Kang was designated for assignment on Friday after hitting just .169. Kang was controversial, to say the least. He was arrested for his third DUI in South Korea in 2017, which prevented him from moving back to the United States for the 2018 season. Sexual assault allegations were brought against him during his time with the Pirates as well, but charges were never pursued.
  • Aside from trading Lyles to the Brewers, the Pirates did absolutely nothing at the deadline, They were in talks with the Dodgers about closer Felipe Vazquez, but LA backed off when the Pirates asked for pitching prospect Dustin May and shortstop Gavin Lux.
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