Cardinals Have To Beat The Crew
The St. Louis Cardinals and the National League Central division crown seemed to be synomonous with each other. Year in and year out it was the Cardinals who sat at the top of the standing, but in recent years the tide has changed.
No longer are the Cardinals the lock they once were, especially after last season witnessed them tumble toward the finish line — losing 13 of 15 games during one horrific stretch. The upstart Cincinnati Reds were the Cards kryptonite, winning a few key series down the stretch to show them who the real big boys were.
This season the Cardinals were not even the odds-on favorite to win the division crown, but instead that honor was bestowed upon the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, possessing a potent offense and a great pitching staff were an easy pick over the mostly no-name Cardinals.
However, it was the Cardinals and their under-the-radar acquisitions that made the most noise throughout the seasons early going. It was the Cardinals who sat atop the division, reminiscent of old times while the preseason favorites struggled to play with consistency.
Unfortunately the good vibes the Cards had earlier this season have not continued due to a variety of reasons: The most obvious one is injuries playing a major toll. Perennial N.L. MVP candidate Albert Pujols suffered an injury and faced a DL stint, causing the team to struggle.
In the opening game of a pivotal showdown against the Brewers, rookie righty Lance Lynn suffered an injury to his oblique, most likely sending him to the DL. Lynn has made all of 18 appearances, but already has a place in the Cards’ faithful hearts.
Lynn hasn’t been lights out like other rookie phenoms, but he has been effective out of the bullpen, giving them the spark they need. Since he joined the ranks of the bullpen, the staff has compiled an ERA over a run better than their season average.
With the Cardinals now trailing the Brewers by four games and the date August 10, time is not in their favor, but they have a roster in place that is built to withstand injuries and compete for the division crown.
For years pitchers would never pitch to Pujols because they did not fear the hitter who came after him in the lineup, but those days are long over. The Cardinals, never one to spend big on free-agents, paid an exorbitant amount to keep Matt Holliday after a mid-season trade.
Holliday has supplied St. Louis with another power bat to help take some of the pressure off of Pujols while adding some toward the opposition. However, arguably it has been an under the radar pickup who has supplied even more pop
While Holliday has blasted 18 home runs, obviously still struggling without the benefit of playing in Coors Field, Lance Berkman has found the fountain of youth.
After a year so disastrous that many thought he was done, the Cards took a chance and found lightning in a bottle. Berkman has blasted 28 home runs, which leads the team, while playing adequate defense in the outfield.
With three power hitters in their lineup, the Cards should be fine in the offensive side of the ball. For them to overtake the Brewers, the Cards need to pitch better than them, and win their head to head match-ups.
Following their three game set against the Brew Crew, the Cardinals will still have six games left against the division leaders. Those six games will almost certainly determine the division winner.
If the Cardinals play up to the level they had earlier this year, the lights will be on in Busch for October. If not, then a long winter awaits for the Cards and their fans.
Ryan Lazo is a contributing writer to I70 Baseball. He is also a Senior Writer for BaseballDigest.com. He can be reached at RMLazo13@gmail.com, followed on Twitter @RMLazo13 and read his blog Artificially Enhanced.
2 thoughts on “Cardinals Have To Beat The Crew”
Hey Ryan. Lets do a little math…say the Crew plays out the rest of the season at .500 (45 games left, say 22-23. That gives them an 89-73 record. The Cards would have to go 28-17 to end up 90-72 or winning at a .607 clip.
Should the crew continue at their current pace of .572 they would end up with 92-60. This means the Cards would have to get to 93-59 or 36-9 to finish out.
Think that’s possible? Brewers have easier schedule here on out.
Not sure if there is a typo or not, but your math doesn’t work. If the Cards go 22-23 the rest of the way, they finish at 82-78. In order to finish at 93-59, the Cards would have to win 31 games, or go 31-14, a .688 clip. In all honesty, that would mean that the Birds need to win every series from here on out as well as land a sweep at least once.
As far as the schedules go, they are almost identical. Here’s a quick look:
Both teams will play the following: ten games with the Pirates, six with the Cubs, three with the Reds, four with the Phillies, three with the Mets, and three with the Astros.
The Cardinals will play three games against the Rockies while the Brewers only play two against them. Conversely, the Brewcrew will play four against the Dodgers while the Cards only play three.
The Cardinals have three against the Braves and the Brewers grab three against the Marlins, which is the only true difference and puts the advantage to the Brewers.
Also working in the Brewers favor is that both teams have identical schedules of 25 home games and 19 road games left, and the Brewers have been outstanding at home.
The Brewers have the edge, I will agree, but it is not as clear cut as you laid out. Funny thing about math, when your numbers are wrong your argument becomes unsupported.