NL Central Teams Beginning To Crowd Playoff Field

By Grant E. Doepel
Getty Images
Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds have been making a push back to becoming relevant over the course of June. In their last 10 games, the Reds have posted an impressive record of 7-3. The problem for them, however, is that the other teams in the NL Central have nearly matched such production:

Milwaukee Brewers7-3
St. Louis Cardinals7-3
Pittsburgh Pirates6-4
Chicago Cubs5-5

For a division that earlier this month looked like a lackluster group, they are rising to the occasion as of late — even the lowly Cubs. While the Cardinals had seemingly been making a push towards a run at the division, they received tough news Sunday as they placed pitchers Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia on the DL for an indefinite amount of time.

It will be a large obstacle to overcome for the Cardinals, as they must hope their woeful offense doesn’t make a return in the meantime.

The Brewers, on the other hand, continues to push forward in hopes of continuing their surprisingly successful season. At 17-games over the .500 mark, the Brewers are showing no signs of slowing down. The only blemish on the team’s season has been their record against the Reds, which sits at 2-5.

Milwaukee should thank the Pirates for helping them be in the position they currently hold. The Brewers have easily controlled Pittsburgh in 2014 with a 10-3 season record. Many have assumed that the Brewers would “come down to earth” at some point this season, but it is looking more and more as though their success will be continued through the summer days.

Like the Brewers, the Reds have feasted on the Pirates with a 7-3 head-to-head record on the season. The Pirates and Brewers have been a big reason why the Reds have maintained to stay afloat in the playoff race, as they are a combined 12-5 against the two teams. For the Reds to make the jump needed, they will need to continue their hot ways, as they have won eight of their past 11.

With 13 divisional games remaining for the Reds before the All-Star Break, things could get very interesting for the division.

The saving grace for the Pirates on the season has been the Cubs, a team which Pittsburgh has beaten nine out of its 13 games. For the Pirates, it has been a frustrating first half of the season. After such a magical 2013 year, the Steel City team has been anything but overly successful. In order for the Pirates to make a play in the NL Central, they must first begin by consistently beating the teams ahead of them in the division.

The remainder of the 2014 season is shaping up to be a battle to the end between four of the contending teams. The skill differential between the top four teams is very slim, which will make for a very exciting push toward October.

Grant Doepel is a Cincinnati Reds writer for Follow him on Twitter @GrantDoepel, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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