May will test the Cardinals in more than one way. The long, grueling month will only feature two off days for the club, challenging the pitching staff early on to keep things under control both in the bullpen and starting rotation. They will face off against some division foes as well as some highly favored teams from the West Coast. The team will also find themselves on the road more than they are home for the second straight month. Some key games will come in May and the Cardinals will find themselves challenged early this season.
Total Games: 29
Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 14
Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 15
Vs teams in the NL Central: 11
May 6-8 vs Milwaukee – The team in the Central division that everyone is talking about comes to town the first weekend in May and will pose a threat to the Cardinals. An improved rotation that should be healthy by the time this series happens will challenge the offense of the Cardinals and their ability to perform. The Brewers have drawn attention as potential contenders for 2011 and the Cardinals will get first hand knowledge as to why in this critical series for the team.
May 20-22 @ Kansas City – Of course this series is important, it is this site’s namesake. The I-70 series will be revisited as the Cardinals travel across the state to take on the Royals. Last season, the Cardinals struggled against teams with poor records and the Royals were no stranger to taking advantage of that. The “boys in blue” always give the Cardinals some headaches and the interstate rivalry promises to be heating up over the next few years as the Royals become contenders again. The Cardinals need to win games like these if they are to be competitive in 2011.
Key To a Hot Month:
The Cardinals need to stay the course through the month of May. Games against the Rockies and World Champion Giants will challenge them. Games against the Cubs, Astros and Royals have to become wins for this team to succeed. A two game set in the middle of the month against the Phillies and their monstrous pitching staff will have people saying “playoff preview” if the Cardinals are playing good baseball.
At the end of May:
If the Cardinals have 17+ wins… then they, in all honesty, have not performed as well as they need to. Seventeen wins would suggest series wins over the Marlins, Cubs, Astros, and Royals and a win in each series against the Brewers, Reds, Phillies, Padres, Rockies and Giants. The Cardinals simply must win the aforementioned series and take at least three of the later series. Anything less and everyone will simply state that the Cardinals cannot play against the other contenders of the league.
If the Cardinals are .500… fans will begin to worry. There are enough games in this month against bad ball clubs that this team simply has to post a winning record.
If the Cardinals are below .500… fans may revolt in droves and being to demand the trade of Albert Pujols. This team is built to win and in a month where they will play against teams that are expected to contend but not win and teams that are not expected to do either, they have to be able to walk away with their heads held high and in a winning situation.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.