As Milwaukee has scuffled in July, St. Louis has won seven of its last 10 games to pull even with the Brewers for first place in the division. The Cardinals are still the second-worst offense in baseball in terms of runs scored, but St. Louis has swung the bat better in July. Matt Holliday is beginning to heat up at the plate, while Kolten Wong is hitting .351 with five home runs and eight RBI in his last 11 games. The Cardinals are going to have to try and win the division without All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who is expected to miss the next 8-12 weeks with a torn ligament in his right thumb. Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia are on the disabled list, leaving Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly at the backend of the rotation. Shelby Miller was recently moved to the bullpen, as the schedule allows for a four-man rotation for the time being.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Milwaukee Brewers, 54-45 first place
A 3-11 start to July has erased the advantage the Brewers gained over the first three months of the season. Milwaukee is 25th in runs scored and 26th in team ERA in July, as the Brewers simply haven't played good baseball. That said, Milwaukee is still tied for the National League Central and are just 1/2 game from carrying the best record in the National League. The bullpen has slipped from its dominant early-season form, the offense has been streaky, while the starting rotation has not carried the team like it did in April. Ryan Braun is the only regular hitting over .300 in July. The first base duo of Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay is hitting just .153 (9 for 59) in the month. One bad stretch won't kill Milwaukee's playoff chances, but the Brewers need to start playing better baseball.
Nick Wass/Associated PressNick Wass
Pittsburgh Pirates, 52-46 third place, 1 1/2 GB
Nine games back of the division lead just a month ago, the Pirates enter play Monday just 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers and Cardinals. Pittsburgh is 27-16 since June 1 and currently hold the best home record in the NL. Despite Gerrit Cole being on the DL, Pittsburgh's pitching has third-best ERA in the NL in July. Jeff Locke has come up from Triple-A and pitched well, while Charlie Morton has been consistent all season. Francisco Liriano is back from the disabled list and Edinson Volquez has been a pleasant surprise. The Pirates recently traded Jason Grilli to the Angels, fully handling the job as closer to Mark Melancon. Offensively, Andrew McCutchen is having another MVP-like season. The Pirates are just 22-30 against the rest of the division, 13-26 if their 9-4 record against the Cubs is removed.
David Kohl-USA TODAY SportsDavid Kohl
Cincinnati Reds, 51-47, fourth place, 2 1/2 GB
Every other fourth-place team in baseball is at least 7 1/2 games back in the division race, but the Reds are just 2 1/2 games out of first place. Cincinnati will play a good chunk of the rest of the regular season without second baseman Brandon Phillips, as he suffered the same exact thumb injury as Yadier Molina. The Reds played most of May without Joey Votto and now their star first baseman is on the disabled list again. General manager Walt Jocketty recently told ESPN both Votto and Phillips are at least five weeks away from returning. Cincinnati can pitch, there's no doubt about that. Whether the Reds make the postseason will depend on if they can score enough runs consistently.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SportAnthony Gruppuso
Chicago Cubs, 40-57, fifth place, 13 GB
After going 15-13 in June, the Cubs traded pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. Chicago's team ERA is 6.16 thus far in July, as Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood have ERAs over 7.00 in the month. Jake Arrieta is the only reliable starting pitcher on the staff right now, as the Cubs seem destined to really struggle to get outs in the final two months of the year. The bullpen hasn't been much better either. Chicago is scoring 4.5 runs per game in July -- the fifth-most in baseball -- but has pitched that poorly. Overall, the Cubs are a bad offense and now are without the two starting pitchers who helped them stay competitive. Chicago is going to play a role in the division race one way or another, either as the punching bag or as a spoiler.