So here we stand.
A team filled with World Series aspirations sits only a measly six games over .500 as we near the All-Star break. A team that was supposed to continue its torrid offense pace of 2013 now ranks 28th out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored. A team that was proclaimed to have more pitching then they knew what to do with now has lost three of its starters forcing the Cardinals to rely on rookies. A team, that despite all of these problems, has six games in front of them that can define their season.
No matter how many ways you slice it, this is undeniably the Cardinals biggest week of the season up to this point. Despite not playing their best baseball, the Cardinals only sit four games back behind the Brewers in the N.L. Central division race. And, oh boy, look at the opportunity in front of them. The Cardinals have three home games against the surging Pirates, who are only half-game behind the Cardinals, and then three on the road against the Brewers to finish out the first half of the season.
I’m not saying that this week will make or break the Cardinals season but it sure does feel like these six games will carry a lot of weight going forward, doesn’t it? Win four or five and the Cardinals could find themselves only a game back of the Brewers. A winning streak could show general manager John Mozeliak that this team does have a pulse and playoff aspirations, propelling him to make a trade for another starting pitcher or big bat for the lineup. A winning streak would give the Cardinals all the momentum heading into the second-half of the season, their first half woes whisking away in the summer winds.
And yet, this week could doom the Cardinals. They could get swept by the Brewers and find themselves as many as seven games back, an almost insurmountable comeback given the way the Cards have been playing. Mozeliak would almost certainly hold all of his prospect chips and pass on a trade while the Cardinals would be in for a dismal summer listening to critics ask if it would be a crime for their offense to be any worse.
It’s hard to put too much stock into six games out of a 162 game season, but the way this year is going, it sure feels like the Cardinals season will be defined by these games.