We're halfway home! Well, not in the season. We're, like, three-fourths of the way home there. But we're halfway through revising the 2015 goals of every team in baseball to match the context in which each team finds itself. Yesterday, I went through the AL East and the NL East. Earlier today, we published revised goals for the AL Central. Indeed, as I said then, while winning the World Series is a laudable goal, it simply isn't a realistic one for every team every year, especially since 29 of them are going to fall short.
So, given where they are now, here are some realistic and revised goals for the teams in the National League Central, so that they can at least feel good about how they finish:
Current record: 73-51, 6.5 games back in the NL Central, leading 2nd wild card, 2.0 games back of 1st wild card
With a 4.5 game lead over their closest competitor, the Cubs are over 90 percent to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2008 thanks to the impressive young talent nurtured by Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein, and Joe Maddon. It'd sure be pretty to have that Wild Card Game in Wrigley Field, not to mention the advantage the Cubs, who are 39-26 at home, would enjoy.
New goal: Overtake the division-rival Pirates, against whom they have six more games, for the first Wild Card spot.
Can feel ok about settling for: The second Wild Card and the chance to throw Jake Arrieta at the Pirates I the play-in game isn't anything to feel disappointed about, especially given how ridiculously strong their division is and since this will hardly be the Cubs' only bite at the postseason apple.
Current record: 52-72
The Reds have 10 of their last 11 games, and 16 of their last 20. They've been brutal since trading away Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. At this point, they need to focus on how they're going to move forward in 2016.
New goal: At this point, they're going to have to go 14-24 to avoid their worst finish since 2001. That doesn't seem too hard, but let's start small.
Can feel ok about settling for: Rest veterans like Votto and Frazier, give young pitchers exposure, and for God's sake, help Billy Hamilton figure out how to hit a baseball.
Current record: 53-73
After starting the year 4-17, the Brewers have played unembarrassing ball since then, going 49-56 the rest of the way. Milwaukee will surely look to move Adam Lind, Francisco Rodriguez, and Matt Garza this offseason, so they need to not put too much strain on those three.
New goal: At this point? Honestly? Avoid 95 losses. That will require the Brewers to go 15-21 and the rest of the way.
Can feel ok about settling for: Keeping Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy healthy. Getting Garza back and showcasing him for offseason trades.
Current record: 75-49, 4.5 back in NL Central, leading NL Wild Card
The Pirates have had to play in the Wild Card Game in both of the last two years. While that's nothing to sneeze at, it would be super nice to get to avoid the randomness of that game with the best squad they've had since the Barry Bonds era.
New goal: It will be tough, but the Cardinals are within reach, especially since the two will play six more games head-to-head.
Can feel ok about settling for: Hosting the Wild Card Game.
St. Louis Cardinals
Current record: 80-45, leading NL Central, best record in baseball
A juggernaut again, the Cardinals are one of just two teams who are 100 percent going to make the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus's playoff odds. They need to hold off the Pirates and stay out of the wild card elimination game so that they can avoid the randomness of single-game results. It'll be no fun if they only get to use one of the starters who helped make them the most dominant pitching staff of the last 100 years or so.
New goal: A club this strong's only reasonable goal is to win the World Series.
Can feel ok about settling for: Nope, not settling. That's the goal for the best team in baseball.