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As they come back from the All-Star break, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are tied for the lead in the NL Central. They have both played a similar ratio of home and away games, and both added talent to their rosters.
St. Louis has gotten MVP-caliber slugger Albert Pujols back from the disabled list. Milwaukee has added Francisco Rodriguez to shore up pitching, which remains a weakness for both teams.
K-Rod may not be the player he was a few years ago, nor is he worth the eight-digit salary. But as the former closer on a championship team, his presence can only help. So while Milwaukee already possesses a solid closer in John Axford, they now have another in the 'pen.
They also have starting pitching that should be better than they have performed to date. Shaun Marcum (7-3 record, 3.39 ERA), Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.65) and Yovanni Gallardo (10-5, 3.76) provide a good three-man rotation for the playoffs, and Zach Greinke (7-3, 5.45) figures to be working toward his former Cy Young-level play the further he gets from his preseason injury.
Brewers' hitters played a prominent role in the All-Star game, from the contest's MVP Prince Fielder hitting a three-run home run, to lead-off hitter Ricky Weeks scoring the next run as insurance. With fellow All-Star Ryan Braun in the middle of the order, that compares to the Cardinals' lineup on paper, even though they are in the middle of the league in batting average and runs scored.
In short, the Brewers do not seem to have been playing their best and are still tied with the Cards atop the division. With only one playoff appearance since 1982 (in 2008), they should be hungrier and thus, should pass them.