Breaking Down the Schedule: The St. Louis Cardinals’ Path to October
Adding up the totals from my extremely non-scientific prediction method, here’s how the Cardinals would finish up against each opponent next season:
3-1 vs Tigers, 4-2 vs Royals, 2-1 vs Indians, 2-2 vs Twins, 1-2 vs White Sox
6-4 vs Pirates, 5-5 vs Cubs, 5-5 vs Brewers, 5-5 vs Reds
12-8 (.600) vs AL Central, 21-19 (.525) vs NL Central
I think most people would be disappointed to split the season series against the Cubs, Brewers, and Reds. If the math holds up against the other teams, however, then it might not matter. From what this prediction shows us, the 60-game schedule favors consistent production more than anything else.
Compare this hypothetical performance to last year’s division-winning team. In 2019, the Cardinals went 46-30 (.600) against NL Central opponents. In interleague play with the AL West, the Cardinals were 9-11 (.450).
So, what will it take for the Cardinals to repeat in 2020? The AL West is significantly worse than the AL Central, so improvement in those games is likely. And while last year the Cardinals crushed their divisional rivals, I have the Cardinals barely going over .500 in those games, yet still reaching the projected win total for the division champion. It seems that a playoff berth is very possible for the Cardinals, even without a significant improvement from last year.
Of course, there is still a lot of baseball to be played. For all we know, some team ends up running the table and winning 40 games– crazier things have happened. As a Cardinal fan, I’m reassured by the fact that they don’t have to be perfect to make it to the playoffs. A fast start, weathering the storm through the middle, and a strong closing performance will be the keys to a successful season.
Predictions are always tough. In the end, I’d rather the Cardinals make the playoffs and have everything here be wrong. Really, we’re all just counting down the days till Jack Flaherty takes the mound on July 24th at Busch– it’s going to be an exciting sprint to the end.