Breaking Down the Schedule: The St. Louis Cardinals’ Path to October
Each section of the St. Louis Cardinals schedule this season offers something a little different. How will they need to perform in order to make it back to the postseason in 2020?
St. Louis Cardinals baseball is getting closer and closer. We’ve already covered the unusual nature of this season, but there is one big advantage of a short year that we have not yet discussed: the dangerous ability to make more detailed predictions.
With the regular season covering less than three months, it is not too far-fetched to look all the way to the end. Predicting each game is probably not worth our time. However, it might be interesting to break down the season into smaller pieces, in order to better understand a potential path to October.
For the Cardinals, there are three distinct sections in this year’s schedule. The first nineteen games end with the (proposed) Field of Dreams game against the White Sox in Iowa. The second twenty-two games are almost all on the road. Finally, the last nineteen games are split almost evenly between home and away.
Each of these 20-game stretches will have a big impact on the 2020 season. FanGraphs projects the NL Central winner to post a record of 32-28, and only one National League team to win over 34 games. Not a single NL team is projected to win more than 38 games or less than 24. If the Cardinals win at exactly the same pace as they did in 2019, they would hit that 32-win mark.
In other words, there won’t be much separation between a playoff team and the basement of a division. Winning close games and performing consistently might somehow be even more important this year. Beating the weaker teams on your schedule will be necessary to stay ahead of the pack.
How does this year compare to 2019? What will it take for the Cardinals to defend their division crown? Breaking down these three 20-game sections might just reveal the answer.