The Cincinnati Reds are in first place in the NL Central and got there by playing consistent baseball against division rivals. The Reds have won 10 of their last 13 games, including series wins over Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Bronson Arroyo (3-2; 4.78 ERA), Johnny Cueto (3-1; 3.67) and Mike Leak (4-0; 3.09) have been rock solid in the rotation. Cincy does not have a regular position player batting .300, however. They will need consistent hitting to stay in the playoff chase through the dog days of summer.
Out west, San Diego is 1.5 games over the Giants, thanks to a sweep last week over San Francisco. The Padres, who are 6-0 against the Giants, are in the midst of another series and San Diego has taken the first game. It’s far too early to count Frisco out of anything, but the Padres are certainly establishing themselves in the West early.
The Dodgers are creeping up behind the Giants, thanks to an eight-game winning streak. It looks like the west could be the most entertaining division to watch as the season wears on.
The Phillies have the largest division lead in baseball, sitting five games ahead of Florida. Philadelphia has won eight of its last 10 and is playing good baseball at home (11-6) and on the road (13-7). Shane Victorino is an extra-base hit machine, racking up five doubles, five triples and eight home runs in the early going. The starting rotation continues to pitch extremely well.
The Marlins are the best candidate to challenge the Phillies. They are sitting at 20-19 and aren’t playing particularly well at home (11-10) or on the road (9-9). Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson have been solid on the mound for the fish.
Philadelphia – Playing good baseball in the field, on the mound and at the plate. Just wait to Jimmy Rollins gets in the mix.
St. Louis – Dropped into second place, but won’t hit the panic button.
San Diego – Beating division foes and staying atop the division.
San Francisco – Needs to beat the Padres at some point if they want to overtake them.
Cincinnati – Looking good. Should stick around if Dusty Baker doesn’t pitch his rotation’s arms off.