It hasn’t been a good day for the other NL Central contenders. A quick recap of the day’s events below:
St. Louis Cardinals – Yadier Molina went down last night, and today it was announced that he would miss 8-12 weeks after having surgery on his thumb. That will put him out for most of the remainder of the season, if not all of it. Here is a feel for the impact that Molina provides for the Cardinals.
— Tim Williams (@timwilliamsP2) July 10, 2014
Cincinnati Reds – Brandon Phillips will also need surgery on his thumb, and is expected to miss the next six weeks. Joey Votto was also recently placed on the DL.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers lost to the Phillies 9-1, and are now 1-9 in their last ten games.
The Brewers are in a massive slide. The Cardinals just lost arguably their most valuable player, possibly for the season. The Reds lost their second baseman for the next month and a half. The current NL Central race is tight, with the Pirates sitting 3.5 games back after their win tonight. They’re only a game behind Cincinnati, and 1.5 games behind St. Louis. The Pirates finish the first half of the season with three games against the Reds over the weekend, and with no Votto or Phillips, now is a good time to play them.
The Pirates just wrapped up an amazing month of June, going 17-10. The start to the month of July has seen a 6-4 record. The problem they’ve seen is that they’ve been beating up on weak teams, and losing against other contenders.
After tonight’s win, the Pirates are 6-7 against the Cardinals. They’re 3-7 against the Reds this year. They’re 3-10 against Milwaukee. Their success since the start of June has largely been due to weak opponents. Here is a look at the series the Pirates won, the series record, and the standings for those opponents.
Padres (2-1) (.440)
Cubs (5-2) (.429)
Marlins (2-1) (.484)
Rays (2-1) (.447)
Mets (3-1) (.457)
Diamondbacks (2-1) (.419)
Phillies (3-0) (.446)
Now here are the series that the Pirates have lost since the start of June.
Milwaukee (1-2) (.559)
Cincinnati (1-2) (.538)
St. Louis (1-3) (.533)
Eventually the Pirates are going to have to defeat these division opponents to be contenders. But after this weekend they get a bit of a break. They don’t play any division opponents until August 22nd, at which point they have a series against Milwaukee, followed by a series against St. Louis, one against the Reds, then back to St. Louis.
The Pirates have a 36-20 record (.643 winning percentage) against the rest of the teams in baseball. The upcoming month will give them a chance to try and add to their winning percentage. Meanwhile, the Brewers are slipping, and the Cardinals and Reds are dealing with major injuries.
It’s not exactly a good situation when you’re hoping that other teams beat your competition, while celebrating a break against those teams. I think the Pirates are a team that can at least be evenly matched with their NL Central rivals, but so far we haven’t seen that this year, with the possible exception of St. Louis. For now, they’ve got a good opportunity to make up some ground on those teams, and possibly jump to the top of the NL Central standings.
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