NL Central Update, July 2

As the calendar has flipped to July, the landscape of the NL Central looks a lot different than it did just a week ago.

The Milwaukee Brewers are taking control of the division, with the four other teams struggling to find their way.

The Chicago Cubs have fallen back to a near .500 record while the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds are also hovering around the same place. In the bottom of the division, the Pittsburgh Pirates have started to play better in the last 10 games but are still more than 20-games under .500.

Since trading for the Willy Adames acquisition, few teams across Major League Baseball have accomplished as much as Milwaukee. The Brewers are 28-11 and just completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs.

Here is the update on what the NL Central looks like heading into the July 4 weekend.

Milwaukee Brewers, 49-33

Brewers' Willy Adames is emerging as a top tier shortstop - Beyond the Box  Score

The Brewers are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have won 12-of-13, with their only loss coming against the Diamondbacks in Arizona on June 21.

Milwaukee’s offense exploded for 31 runs in their three-game sweep of the Cubs, including a 15-7 win over Chicago. The Brewers were able to overcome a 7-0 deficit in the third game of the series.

Brandon Woodruff recorded his seventh win of the series in the second game of the series with Chicago in a 2-1 win.

The Brewers now head into Pittsburgh for a three-game weekend.

Chicago Cubs, 42-39, 6.5 GB

Two weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs were one of the hottest teams in baseball and looked like a team that would likely be buyers at the trade deadline. In their last 10 games, the Cubs are just 3-7, and now questions are circling about their deadline decisions.

The injury bug has hit the Cubs again in the last week too. Both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo missed time this last week with nagging injuries. In the bullpen, right-handed reliever Ryan Tepera was placed on the injured list with a left calf strain.

The Cubs have also suffered injuries to their backup catchers again, this time Jose Lobaton. Lobaton sprained his right throwing shoulder after trying to avoid a collision with Brewers reliever Josh Hader.

The Cubs travel to Cincinnati for a big three-game series this weekend that could potentially change the direction of the Cubs season.

Cincinnati Reds, 40-40, 8.0 GB

The Refurbished Reds have reinforcements on deck, too - Red Reporter

Coming at 40-40, the Reds are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Reds lost two-of-three to the Padres this week but will have the opportunity to move up in the division with a division win over the Cubs this weekend at Great American Ballpark.

The Reds rotation is set up with Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Wade Miley. The Cubs have Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Kyle Hendricks matched up against the Reds this weekend.

Cincinnati was able to avoid a sweep against the Padres after a Tyler Stephenson bases-loaded single in the ninth inning against Mark Melancon.

St. Louis Cardinals, 40-42, 9.0 GB

The St. Louis Cardinals are in the middle of a 20-game stretch of games against teams with a record with or under a .500 record, but St. Louis hasn’t been able to capitalize. Instead, the Cardinals are 4-6 in their first 10 games.

After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in St. Louis, the Cardinals started a four-game weekend series against the Colorado Rockies. St. Louis lost the first game of the series on a walk-off in the ninth inning.

The Cardinals finally have most of their position players healthy as Harrison Bader made his return to the lineup on Thursday, but the Cardinals’ pitching is still unhealthy and largely not very good.

Carlos Martinez was able to save his spot in the rotation with a win to clinch the sweep against Arizona. Adam Wainwright did have another strong start on Thursday, going eighth innings.

Pittsburgh Pirates, 29-51, 19.0 GB

The St. Louis Cardinals should respectfully defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates -  Viva El Birdos

The Pirates are still over 20 games under .500, but in their last 10 games, they are 4-6, including a series win against the Cardinals. However, they have lost four straight games.

Pittsburgh has a tough weekend series with Milwaukee starting Friday.