It isn’t hard to argue against contraction when the National League Central, the only six team division in MLB, has such a sharp fall off after just two teams. The Cardinals and Reds are within one game of each other, in third sit the Milwaukee Brewers who are 8.5 games back with a 40-49 record. That is a bad division and I haven’t even got to the Pittsburgh Pirates yet. In the case of the Brewers it looks like thy got off to a very bad start going 9-14 in April and have not been able to recover yet. Even with a 9-6 record in interleague play, they still find themselves on the minus side of being a .500 team.
I don’t think offense is this team’s problems lay with the offense. They have scored 418 runs, and as a team they are hitting .260. That is the sixth best team BA in the National League. They have collected 806 hits which is the third best NL hit total. Their 806 hits can be broken down like this; 170 doubles (best among NL clubs), 17 triples, and 110 home runs (also tops among NL teams). They have struck out 674 times and drawn 321 walks.
Pitching is definitely this team’s problem. They have given up 472 runs, and their staff ERA is 4.86. That number is the third highest ERA of NL staffs. Only one of their regular five starters, Yovani Gallardo, has an ERA under three. They have given up 858 hits, and 97 of those were home runs. They have struck out 680 batters, and issued 348 walks.
This is a team that added some LHP talent to the roster over the off season. They actively pursued Randy Wolf, and gave him a three year deal. One of the big questions before the season was would that help. Wolf is 6-8 with a 4.56 ERA so that answer to that question seems to be a resounding no.