Saturday, July 16, 2011
Home » Brandon Phillips , Chris Narveson , Cincinnati Reds , Jeff Karstens , John Axford , Juan Nicasio , Milwaukee Brewers , NL Central , Nyjer Morgan , Pittsburgh Pirates , Prince Fielder , St. Louis Cardinals » Pirates Take Over NL Central Race
10:48 AM Brandon Phillips, Chris Narveson, Cincinnati Reds, Jeff Karstens, John Axford, Juan Nicasio, Milwaukee Brewers, NL Central, Nyjer Morgan, Pittsburgh Pirates, Prince Fielder, St. Louis Cardinals 3 comments
It's been 14 years since the standings have looked like this at this point in the season, but lo and behold the Pittsburgh Pirates are back atop the NL Central standings. There's a couple of reasons why the standings look like this today. First, the Pirates are a quality baseball team. I've really been a fan of what that organization has been doing the last few years, and if Zach Greinke could pitch half as well as guys like Jeff Karstens and Paul Maholm the Brewers would be in much better shape. Second, the Cardinals have a terrible bullpen, as evidenced by Brandon Phillips' walk-off home run for the Reds on Saturday night to beat St. Louis and hold them back in the divisional race. Third, the NL Central is going to be topsy-turvy the rest of the way out, and while I truly believe the Brewers have the most talent and the best ballclub, they just have not been able to find a way to win on the road and it's costing them dearly.
With their 4-0 loss to the Rockies on Friday night, the Brewers have now fallen to a 16-31 road record, better than only the A's, Royals, and Orioles - all teams that are at the bottom of their divisions by the way. To even be where they are it's clear that the Brewers have played excellent at home, but you only get 81 games and Miller Park during a given season. It should be fairly obvious that the Brewers will need to pick it up on the road if they are going to make the playoffs, but with their consistent struggles I'm not sure if that fact is even clear to members of the Brewers team.
They are just a different team on the road it seems. They can't hit, as they were limited to just four base knocks on Friday against the up-and-coming Juan Nicasio. In fact, the only two guys to get hits off Nicasio where lefties - Prince Fielder and Nyjer Morgan. Their pitching seems to struggle away from Miller Park as well. Chris Narveson didn't have the worst game (6 IP, 3 ER, 5K) however on Friday, but as a whole the sample size has not been positive.
Yeah, the NL Central is a logjam right now, and probably will be for awhile. And at other times when the Brewers have struggled, their other divisional opponents have struggled even worse to keep the Brewers in the race. But with the Cardinals, Reds, and now Pirates all giving chase with a legitimate shot at this thing, the Brewers have to find a way to be the team that is going to separate themselves from the pack. They'd win this division tomorrow if they played every game in Milwaukee, but with 9 games remaining on this 11 game road trip, waiting until they get back to Milwaukee could cost them their season.
POTG: John Axford? He pitched a scoreless frame. Let's give him some recognition for this season so far.
The NL Central
Each day, there's a new leader
Reclaim it, Brewers