The St. Louis Cardinals have been hot so far in July while playing a relatively easy schedule. As the schedule gets tougher, the team will be tested.
The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed the luxury of an easy schedule for about the last month. After starting the season with a difficult schedule, the bottom feeders had to come eventually and a month ago, we wrote on Redbird Rants about how important it was going to be to make the most of that stretch.
The stretch against the bad teams may not have been amazing the first few games, but since the start of July, the team is 14-6 and even sooner, since the All-Star break, the team is 11-3. At the beginning of July, the Cardinals were 3.5 games back in the NL Central and more or less held that until the last stretch since the ASB.
The Cardinals are now tied for first place in the NL Central with the Cubs. That is something that many fans wouldn’t have thought would be true at any point this late in the season. The Cardinals and the Cubs have the same record and the Brewers are now 2.0 games back in the standings.
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This obviously could change in a blink of an eye, but from what we’ve seen from the team over the last 14 days, it truly does look like a different team than what we saw earlier in this season even. If the team is able to add on a productive piece at the Trade Deadline, and this team could look pretty good as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.
For as good as the team has been in July, the easy schedule is coming to an end on Friday as the Cardinals are going to start a tough stretch of schedule.
Over the next 11 games, the Cardinals play teams that are all in playoff spots currently. Starting with three against the Astros this weekend, the team is going to play three against the Cubs (this series saddles the Trade Deadline), then two out west against the Athletics and three against the Dodgers.
Collectively, these teams have a collective .594 winning percentage and again, are all in playoff spots. It’s great that the team was able to beat up on some lower-level teams, but these next 11 games are going to be the first true test the Cardinals have had to face since they have gotten hot again.
If the team leaves these 11 games at anything under .500, that is worrisome for their chances in the playoffs. It obviously wouldn’t be the end of the world, but in my opinion, you need to at least go 6-5 in these next 11.
It’s been extremely exciting to watch this team breakout against the Reds and Pirates especially, but this next stretch is going to be super important to see how the team will look against the cream of the crop.