St. Louis Cardinals: The next four days will be interesting
The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off a sweep of the Colorado Rockies with just four days remaining until the trade deadline.
What a difference a series can make, right? Just a week ago, the St. Louis Cardinals split with the Mets and took a series loss to the Cubs. One could argue the Cardinals should have won both series, including sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley. Instead, we saw more of the same story, including multiple bullpen implosions.
I wrote how the Cardinals needed to win the series against the Cubs to keep the season alive. After Sunday, though, I had more faith than I thought I would.
Since then, the Cardinals beat the Rockies in three straight games in exciting fashion. Each game featured quality pitching, maybe not so much by Carlos Martinez, and timely hitting. Thanks to rookie sensation, Paul DeJong, the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves just 3.5 games back of the new division leader, the Chicago Cubs.
Isn’t it crazy what could have been if the Cardinals would have won in Chicago? While some may have given up completely, I found some peace in the series loss to Chicago that extended itself into the Colorado series.
One of the biggest x-factors on a team is competitiveness. Throughout this whole season, the St. Louis Cardinals have been flat. The losses to lesser teams and giving up late leads to good teams seems to have finally changed something in the Cardinals.
During the Chicago series, the Cardinals remained in every game until the end, including the two losses. Remember the nine run inning during Friday’s game?
That came in the eighth inning in a 2-2 game. Oh, that was also against Jake Arrieta. While the next two were losses, the Cardinals showed they can hang with Jon Lester and newly acquired Jose Quintana. The Cardinals proved to me they can beat these teams when given the chance.
Now, I know some of you will say, “Well they had their chance and blew it.” You’re not wrong. There really isn’t a defense for an inconsistent bullpen. They have had many chances to finish games for the Cardinals and have failed. However, if you put that aside, the starting pitching and the offense have kept the team in games, and continues to do so.
On Monday’s podcast, I spoke about how the team’s fight was the most important thing I took away from the Cubs series. Even though I wrote about sticking a fork in the Cardinals if they lost, the team proved to me they are never really out of it. They control their own destiny. On Monday, I also said I hoped the Cardinals would continue this fight into the Rockies series.
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Thankfully the Cardinals were able to do just that, but the next four days will set the tone for the remainder of the season.
The next four days are crucial to the St. Louis Cardinals. First, they welcome the other Wild Card team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, for a four game set. Once again, the Cardinals will have to be up to the challenge against another playoff bound team. If you are looking for a good match-up over the weekend, then tune into this series. There will be quality pitching, good offense, and playoff implications packed into it.
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If the Cardinals can play with the same effort from the last week, this series could push the Cardinals to the brink of first place in the NL-Central.
The Cardinals have a showdown with Milwaukee starting next Tuesday.
Speaking of the Brewers, they play the Cubs this weekend, so if you think the Cardinals don’t know that already, think again.
The prospect of climbing all the way back up into first place is enough motivation for the team to continue its recent play.
However, it’s not just the playoff race that matters over the next four days. As I’ve said before, the trade deadline looms large for the St. Louis Cardinals.
While many still cast some doubt on whether the team will make a substantial move this deadline, the team’s play could really put the front office to the test. If the Cardinals make it out of the four game series with a series win, not only will they sit above .500, they will more than likely be in a position to buy at the deadline.
The obvious question then becomes who would they get in such a short amount of time. Given the time frame to make a deal, the Cardinals would have to hope the price tag for a player doesn’t jump due to their desperation. Recent news suggests the Cardinals will likely wait till the off-season for a bat, but the next four days could change that perception.
Next: A week till the trade deadline
The St. Louis Cardinals will look to bridge the gap between the Brewers and Cubs this weekend, but it won’t be easy. The Cardinals played the Diamondbacks well the last time the teams met. this time should be no different. Keep the good pitching and quality at-bats coming.