NL Central Heat Check: 4/24

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Usually, the first memorable coaching meltdown of baseball season doesn’t come until after Memorial Day. You need to allow time for the pressure to settle in—for a seven-game losing streak, say, or consecutive blown saves. The knowledge of being double-digit games out of the Wild Card spots needs to weigh upon one’s chest until a coach cracks beneath the unbearable strain.

Well, Bryan Price doesn’t care about your f****** expected timeline.

Christmas came early in Cincinnati, as the Reds manager unleashed a profane rant for the ages earlier this week. It’s to him I dedicate the first NL Central Heat Check of the 2015 season.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals (10-4) Heat check: Really f***** hot.
    These f***** guys again? They can’t just ease into the season like the rest of us? Year after G**damn year, I have to f***** sit here and look up the standings at those… Easy there, coach. Remember, it’s still only April. Plenty of baseball is still to be played. Seriously, you might want to get that anger problem checked out. That vein popping out of your red-flushed forehead is making my nervous.
  2. Chicago Cubs (8-7) Heat check: Kind of f***** hot.
    Speaking of weight bearing down, the Cubs could’ve easily buckled beneath the pressure of high expectations and the yearnings of their long-suffering fans—and still could, actually. But Chicago has done an admirable job of just playing ball and blocking out distractions, from the Kris Bryant frenzy to the fact that their outfield bleachers remain an active construction zone.
  3. Cincinnati Reds (8-8) Heat check: Plenty f***** hot, thank you, not that we ever get any credit for it from you.
    Baseball is an inherently streaky sport. That’s what you get when you play six games a week, sometimes seven. Cincy, though, has been next-level bipolar so far this season—winners of four, losers of four, winners of three more. The manic highs have sure been fun. But as Price’s rant unwittingly opened a window to, there are some structural issues here that come out when things start to go poorly.
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates (8-8) Heat check: Lukewarm and f***** fine with it.
    New Pirates, same as the old Pirates: The offense and starting pitching have both taken turns driving the ship, then the bullpen takes the wheel and crashes it right into the rocks. Again, it’s early—seriously, coach, do you even own a calendar?—but as Pittsburgh painfully learned last season, giving away wins in April can bite you in October.
  5. Milwaukee Brewers (3-13) Heat check: Cold as f***.
    Shout out to the Brew Crew for lifting the spirits of the rest of the division and doing its best to temporarily restore Bryan Price’s sanity.

Matt Pentz is a Nuxhall Way contributor and a reporter for The Seattle Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattpentz.

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