The NL Central is packed with dominant pitching, making it no accident that three of baseball's best teams reside there. St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are all in line for playoff spots right now, and if their arms hold up, the postseason could feature some pretty familiar matchups early on in the NL.
Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the majors shaking out:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (42-23; LW: 1) - Zuckerman: Miller, Wainwright and Lynn all have WHIPs under 1.12. Simply dominant pitching.
2. Boston Red Sox (41-26; LW: 3) - Hughes: Boston has emerged as the best offense in the majors by a good margin. Everyone packs power as they're slugging over .450 as a team.
3. Cincinnati Reds (40-26; LW: 4) - Zuckerman: Mat Latos (6-0, 2.87 ERA) not getting enough credit as one of the NL's best starters.
4. Atlanta Braves (39-27; LW: 2) - Hughes: While the Nats have struggled with injuries, the Braves have used the same five starters all season and are about to get Brandon Beachy back.
5. Oakland Athletics (40-27; LW: 7) - Roney: Has there been a bigger revelation who has generated less attention than Josh Donaldson? The 27-year-old third baseman, in his first full season, has been far and away Oakland's best hitter: .317 avg, .385 OBP, 9 HR, 42 RBI.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (39-26; LW: 8) - Zuckerman: It wasn't quite Strasmas, but Gerrit Cole's debut was everything Bucs could have hoped.
7. Texas Rangers (38-27; LW: 5) - Roney: Through 80 plate appearances, super prospect Jurickson Profar has been very good -- if unflashy -- at the plate, with a pair of homers, a .292 average, and a quintet of walks to boost his OBP over .340. The only surprise? He's 0-2 in steal attempts.
8. Detroit Tigers (36-28; LW: 10) - Zuckerman: Miguel Cabrera is hitting .369 with 12 HR, 40 RBI … if you only count road games. Staggering.
9. New York Yankees (37-28; LW: 9) - Hughes: Brett Gardner, out of the great College of Charleston, already has six homers. Considering his career high is seven, that's quite a surprise.
10. Baltimore Orioles (37-29; LW: 6) - Hughes: Chris Davis is on pace for over 50 home runs this season. At some point we need to accept him as one of best sluggers in the game.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-29; LW: 11) - Roney: Is there a bigger villain in LA right now than Ian Kennedy? He hit Yasiel Puig in the face Tuesday night (Puig stayed in the game, miraculously) and nearly nailed Zack Grienke in the head a few innings later.
12. Tampa Bay Rays (35-30; LW: 12) - Hughes: Within days we may finally see Wil Myers get a shot at the majors. He should add major power to an already dangerous Tampa offense.
13. Colorado Rockies (35-31; LW: 14) - Roney: The challenge wasn't signing No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Gray to a contract with a $4.8 million bonus -- it will be developing him to his potential. Their track record isn't great in that department.
14. San Francisco Giants (33-31; LW: 13) - Roney: In a surprising departure from the past few years, the Giants' starting rotation boasts only one pitcher (Baumgarner) with an ERA below 4.70.
15. Washington Nationals (32-32; LW: 17) - Hughes: They have to get healthy, but Anthony Rendon in the lineup could make them a much better team long-term.
16. San Diego Padres (32-34; LW: 19) - Roney: Chase Headley has the lowest batting average (.227) of any regular. If you had told me that the Fathers would be this close to .500 with their best hitter weighing down the lineup like that, well...I'm not sure I would have believed you.
17. Cleveland Indians (32-33; LW: 15) - Zuckerman: Remember all the hubbub over Michael Bourn? He's drawn 9 walks in 40 games. Not going to cut it.
18. Kansas City Royals (30-33; LW: 24) - Zuckerman: Finally got it going over the last week as they try to get themselves back in the race.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (31-35; LW: 16) - Hughes: Dom Brown is obviously a keeper, but how the Phillies approach the trade deadline with their other pieces should be interesting.
20. Minnesota Twins (29-33; LW: 18) - Zuckerman: Kevin Correia leads the staff in wins. Repeat: Kevin Correia leads the staff in wins.
21. Chicago White Sox (28-35; LW: 23) - Zuckerman: Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn hitting a combined .207. Tough to build a lineup around those two.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers (28-37; LW: 22) - Roney: Move over Dom Brown -- it's Yasiel Puig's turn to captivate major league baseball.
23. Seattle Mariners (29-38; LW: 21) - Roney: Stop me if you've heard this before: Seattle just called up an elite hitting prospect, hoping to energize a floundering offense. We're rooting for you, Mark Zunino, but we won't be adding you to our fantasy teams.
24. Toronto Blue Jays (28-36; LW: 25) - Hughes: Toronto's pitching staff has been so bad they are giving Chien-Ming Wang another shot.
25. Los Angeles Angels (28-38; LW: 20) - Roney: You see what Detroit's got going on, with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera? That's what the Angels thought they were doing by signing Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
26. Milwaukee Brewers (27-38; LW: 28) - Zuckerman: Collective ERA of Milwaukee's starting pitchers: 5.65. Is that even possible?
27. Chicago Cubs (25-38; LW: 26) - Zuckerman: Carlos Marmol AND Henry Rodriguez in the same bullpen? Enjoy your summer, Chicago.
28. New York Mets (24-36; LW: 27) - Hughes: New York has already found a silver lining to their season with Matt Harvey, now let's see what Zack Wheeler can do.
29. Houston Astros (23-44; LW: 29) - Roney: Starter Bud Norris, 28, is having perhaps the best year of his career (though his strikeouts are down). He may help the Astros most by bringing something back at the deadline.
30. Marlins (19-46; LW: 30) - Hughes: Jose Fernandez, 20, has a 3.17 ERA through 65 1/3 innings now. The Marlins have young talent, it just may take a few years.