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NL Central First Half Recap for the 2017 MLB Season

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The NL Central had a wild first half of the 2017 MLB season with some surprises sprinkled in. The defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs have struggled to gain some consistency throughout the first stretch. The Milwaukee Brewers are currently the top dog in the division. The Pittsburgh Pirates are dealing with some offensive woes while their pitching keeps them in games. The St. Louis Cardinals are still in the hunt for the playoffs despite some poor performances from all-star caliber players. The Cincinnati Reds are rebuilding, but some unfamiliar names have made fans turn their heads with intrigue. Let’s take a look at the first half of 2017 for the NL Central.

Jul 10, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; National League infielder Zack Cozart (2) of the Cincinnati Reds during a media availability one day before the 2017 MLB All Star Game at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds (39-49)

The Reds have won four of their last six games, but remain in the basement of the NL Central. The Reds offense ranks 10th in batting average, 12th in runs scored, and 3rd in slugging percentage. The Cincy pitching staff isn’t in a good spot, however. Their staff ranks 29th in ERA(5.05 ERA), 28th in quality starts (30), and 23rd in batting average against.

Joey Votto had a terrific first half of the 2017 MLB season. Votto hit .315 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs. Zack Cozart hit .316 with 9 homers and 35 RBIs.

Outfielder Adam Duvall is picking up where he left off last season. Duvall has 20 homers and 61 RBIs, and a .278 average. Scott Schebler joined in on the hitting clinic for the Reds, too. Schebler smacked 22 long balls and collected 44 RBIs.

Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton did some damage on the base paths. The speedy outfielder notched 38 stolen bases in 81 games played this year.

12-year-veteran Scott Feldman had a 3.94 ERA and 86 strikeouts in the first half. Michael Lorenzen (2.93 ERA), Drew Storen (2.80 ERA), and Raisel Iglesias (16 saves, 1.69 ERA) were some of the bright spots on the Cincy pitching staff.

The Reds will host the Washington Nationals when play resumes on Friday. Tim Adleman (5-6, 4.71 ERA) is toe the rubber for Cincy.

Pittsburgh Pirates (42-47)

The Pirates have won 5 of their last 6 games and took 2 out of 3 from the Cubs right before the break.

The Buccos’ pitching ranks 12th in ERA (4.19) and 9th in quality starts (42). Pittsburgh hasn’t been too fortunate on the offensive side, however. The Pirates put up a .241 average (ranked 26th), scored 378 runs (24th), and posted a .390 slugging percentage (27th).

Andrew McCutchen has rebounded from a slow start to 2017 and a poor showing in 2016. The former NL MVP has a .294 average, 17 home runs, and 50 RBIs.

Ivan Nova has been acceptional; the right-handed starter has 9 wins and a 3.21 ERA.

Josh Harrison was the lone all-star for the Bucs this season. Harrison smacked 10 homers and drove in 29 RBIs. He was also tied with Josh Bell for the second most doubles on the Pirates roster (16).

Jul 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) and right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) celebrate the last out of the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit:Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have received production from different hitter in 2017. 10 position players have more than 22 RBIs including McCutchen’s 50 RBIs and Bell’s 44 RBIs.

On the pitching side, Felipe Rivero has been stellar, the hard throwing, left-hander posted a .76 ERA. Jameson Taillon looks like the new ace of the Bucs rotation. He achieved a 2.73 ERA and walked batters in 62.2 innings.

Pittsburgh will face the St. Louis Cardinals in another NL Central battle. Gerrit Cole (7-7) goes for Pitt, Mike Leake (6-7) will take the hill for the Redbirds.

St. Louis Cardinals (43-45)

The Cards have won 6 of their past 10 ballgames.  They have an offense that ranks 19th in runs scored (402), 15th in batting average (.255), and 9th in on-base percentage (.329).

The Cards pitching is listed 6th on the ERA chart (3.97), St. Louis ranks 3rd in quality starts with 48, and they rank 9th in WHIP with 1.29.

Jul 11, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; National League pitcher Carlos Martinez (18) of the St. Louis Cardinals throws a pitch in the third inning during the 2017 MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter Fowler has 14 homers and 36 RBIs, Jedd Gyorko earned a slugging percentage of .519, a .300 average, and 45 RBIs.

Mike Leake brought a 3.12 ERA and 74 strikeouts into the all-star break. Meanwhile, Carlos Martinez threw down, posting a 3.40 ERA with 128 strikeouts; he also made the trip to Miami as he got an all-star nod.

Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina combined for 82 RBIs.

Chicago Cubs (43-45)

The Cubs have only won 4 of their last 12 games.

Chicago’s pitching ranks 9th in ERA (4.10), 25th in quality starts (34), and 6th in batting average (.242)

Carl Edwards, Jr. posted a 2.29 ERA and he’s allowed only 15 hits in 35.1 relief innings.

Wade Davis notched 16 saves and a 1.80 ERA.

The offense of the Cubbies hasn’t been up to par, however. It ranks 20th in runs (399), 28TH in average (.239), and 19th in slugging percentage (.419).

Anthony Rizzo leads Chicago in home runs (20) and RBIs(56).

Third baseman Kris Bryant has a .269 average, with 18 homers, and 38 RBIs.

Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ each have 13 homers so far in 2017.

The Cubs will resume their season when they visit the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. Mike Montgomery (1-6, 3.75 ERA) goes for the Cubbies. Kevin Gausman (5-7, 5.85 ERA) takes the ball for the O’s.

Milwaukee Brewers (50-41)

The first place Brewers received contributions from different players during this season.

Third basman Travis Shaw had a .299 batting average to go along with 65 RBIs.

Eric Thames smashed 23 home runs. Keon Broxton stole 17 bases, Jonathan Villar swiped 16 bases, and Domingo Santana posted a .291 average, with 50 RBIs.

Jun 22, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw (21) drives in a run with a double in the fifth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

On the pitching end of things, Zach Davies won 10 games. Jimmy Nelson had an ERA of 3.30 to go with 118 strikeouts. Nelson leads Milwaukee in both categories.

Chase Anderson earned a 2.89 ERA and Corey Knebel got 14 saves and a 1.70 ERA.

The BrewCrew’s offense ranks 6th in runs (451) and 4th in slugging percentage (.451).

Their pitching is 8th in ERA (4.08), 17th in quality starts (38), and 15th in batting average against (.255).

Milwaukee will host the Philadelphia Phillies to begin the second half of the season. Zach Davies (10-4, 4.90 ERA) will face Nick Pivetta (2-4, 4.73 ERA).

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