Once again, the tough NL Central came down to the final weekend to determine the division winner. The St. Louis Cardinals (91-71) secured the division crown, while the Milwaukee Brewers (89-73) settled on second place. The Brewers, playing without MVP-candidate Christian Yelich, secured a postseason berth and must play the Washington Nationals in the NL wild-card game on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs imploded in September, prompting the team and manager Joe Maddon to part ways after five years as skipper.
Everyone expected the NL Central super-tight race would come down to the wire, but no one anticipated the 2019 season would be peppered with heavy-handed craziness.
The Chicago Cubs blew their spot in first place after an ugly end of the summer. The St. Louis Cardinals surged to the front, only to be challenged at the finish line by the red-hot Brewers.
However, both the Cardinals and Brewers stumbled to the finish line. After going 18-2, the Brewers were swept in the final series, and ended the season on a three-game losing streak. The Cardinals ended a four-game skid on the final game of the season with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. That victory secured the Cards the NL Central crown.
The Milwaukee Brewers locked up the second wild card. The Yelich-less Brew Crew face the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer in Washington on Tuesday. Scherzer is a -185 favorite over Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff, who’s a +165 underdog.
According to William Hill, the St. Louis Cardinals are 14/1 odds to win the World Series. The Milwaukee Brewers are 16/1 odds to win the championship.
Cruel, Cruel Summer in NL Central
At one point late into the season, all five teams had a shot at winning the division. But, it seemed like a one-horse race to the postseason, with the NL Central winner heading to the postseason, and the runner-up busting on the wild-card bubble.
The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates were nothing more than poseurs in what ended up a three-pony race. The bottom feeders of the NL Central capitalized on the cannibalization of the division. Once the Reds were dunzo on paper, they shipped out Yasiel Puig to help the Cleveland Indians try to win the AL Central.
Cubs and Maddon Split
El Mago and the Cubbies were popular picks to win the World Series by every Cubs fan in the Midwest. However, reality sunk in, and the Cubs lost their mud and focus when it counted the most.
The Cubs finished only seven games over .500 after an untimely, nine-game losing streak. The Cubs dropped 10 out of their final 12 games. They went 11-16 since August 31 to play themselves out of contention. As a result, the Cubs missed the playoffs for the first time in five years under Maddon.
The team and manager Joe Maddon agreed to part ways at the end of the season. Even though Maddon finally won the World Series for the Cubs in 2016 after a century of misery, their relationship ended like a dangerous wet fart that resulted in skid marks.
“We’re both going to move on,” said Maddon. “Hopefully, the Cubs are going to flourish. Hopefully, I get a chance to do this someplace else. But there’s no tears shed. It’s a good moment for everybody. And we’re both excited about our futures.”
Maddon is free to explore other options, with openings in San Diego or San Francisco. There’s also a good chance he ends up with the LA Angels.
“We both agreed that, this type of change, that it’s time and that this type of change is a win-win,” said GM Theo Epstein. “We never could have imagined this working out as well as it did. I personally never could have imagined having such a wonderful partner, someone so loyal and supportive and someone from whom I learned so much about baseball and life.”