St. Louis Cardinals: The make or break week is here

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny /

September is here and the St. Louis Cardinals have life. Can they continue that push and secure themselves a playoff spot? We may know after the outcomes of this week.

Here we are again. The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot after an impressive stretch of winning. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this. This time, though, a collapse would inevitably end the playoff hopes for this team in 2017. That’s why this week is the most important week in the Cardinals season thus far.

The Cardinals have done everything right as of late. They have beat teams they are supposed to beat. They have even shown some fight against a division opponent, something fans have begged to see from this team all season. Everything has fallen into place for a real shot at the playoffs. Fellow Redbird Rants contributor and Editor Tito Rivera lays out the Cardinals playoff chances in another post, here.

The Milwaukee Brewers did their part in helping the Cardinals by handling the Chicago Cubs in a three-game sweep. Thanks to sweeps by both the Cardinals and the Brewers, both teams sit two games back of the division leading clubs.

Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Dodgers continued their skid and did nothing to help the Cardinals in their pursuit of the second wild card spot. In the same fashion though, the Cardinals sit just three games back of the Colorado Rockies for said spot.

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Fast forward to this week, six games, all against division opponents. The first series being the Cincinnati Reds and the second the division-leading Cubs.

One team they should handle; the other they need to be competitive with.

When it comes to beating division opponents, this hasn’t been a banner year for this team, but right now; it’s needed far more than it has been all season.

After an off day Monday, the Cardinals will start a three game series with the Reds. In this series the Cardinals will face two starters with ERAs over 5 and a starter making only his fourth career start.

The Cardinals on the other hand will trot out Lance Lynn, one of the best pitchers in the National League over the last few months, and two exciting rookies in Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver. The matchups are more than favorable, but the offense cannot disappear.

After wrapping up their series with the Reds, the team will head to the Chicago for a three-game set. The Cubs will use a rotation of John Lackey, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana. Jake Arrieta is still missing time, but the Cardinals will be bringing out the big guns. The Cardinals will lead the way with Carlos Martinez, followed by Michael Wacha, with Lance Lynn in the finale.

Not too shabby of a group when wins are desperately needed.

Of course, the Cardinals could use some help in their shot at the postseason. This week they may actually get it. The Colorado Rockies will have to face one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last month, division rival Arizona Diamondbacks. If the Dodgers couldn’t help the Cardinals with their playoff attempt, the Diamondbacks aren’t a bad backup.

Related Story: Cards keep pace with Brewers and Rockies

Before a weekend series with the Cardinals, the Cubs will start their week against the Mets. Unfortunately, this is a series that they may not get much help. The Mets are not in a good place and they won’t be throwing out Jacob DeGrom, who pitched Sunday. The Cubs will not face a pitcher with an ERA under 4.5, not an ideal matchup when you are hoping to make up ground.

Milwaukee, the other team the Cardinals will be monitoring, will start their week with the team the Cardinals just swept, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The hope will be that the Pirates can snap their losing streak and take a game or two from the Brewers. The best chance appears to be on Tuesday when Gerrit Cole will take the mound in the second game of the series.

After a three game set with the Pirates, the Brewers will be off to Miami. While pitching isn’t exactly the Marlins’ strong suit, they do have an offense that can make things happen. For the Cardinals’ sake, hopefully Giancarlo Stanton and company can put up some crooked numbers and take the series from the Brewers.

Next: Why Adam Wainwright should not rejoin the rotation

As Cardinal fans we can only hope that things fall in the right way. We can root for teams to lose and things to fall our way, but everything comes down to the them. Can the Cardinals avoid that slump they have been known to do after a win streak? Only time will tell, but it sure is nice to have baseball in September mean something.