The St. Louis Cardinals will finish up their season series against the Cubs in a five-game series over the next four days. This is the time to cut the deficit.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in the middle of one of the weirdest seasons we will see in our entire lifetimes. The first third of the team’s schedule has been decimated by their two outbreaks of COVID-19 and the team is coming off their first day off in 18 days.
Even though the Cards still aren’t back at full strength, they sit at .500 on the season, just 3.5 games back of the 22-15 Chicago Cubs.
In their second season back to play, the Cardinals played a five-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley field in just three days. In that first series, the Cardinals fought and clawed but ended up with just two wins out of the five games. It certainly could’ve gone worse, but the Cards did lose the series.
Now, the Cardinals are about to embark on their second five-game series of the year against the Cubs. This time, it takes place in four days with only one doubleheader.
Both teams come into the series coming off a series win against another NL Central rival. The Cubs took two out of three from the Pirates, and the Cards continued to prove their superiority over the Reds.
To this point in the season, the Cardinals have yet to play a single game against the Milwaukee Brewers and after this five-game series with the Cubs, the Cardinals will be finished with their games against the Northsiders. Because of this, it’s going to be a huge series as far as the NL Central standings go.
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The easiest way to gain (or lose) ground on anyone in your own division is to beat them outright. For the Cardinals, they can’t squander this opportunity to gain at least some ground if they have any goals of winning the Central again.
Take all five, and the Cards will be up 1.5 games. Lose all five, they’ll be back 8.5. In my eyes, the Cards need to win three out of five if they want to set the tone to catch the Cubs. At the very least, another two out of five wins is necessary.
The Cardinals are just a game ahead of the Brewers, and even though they have 10 games in the next month against them, catching the Cubs for the division lead has to be the team’s goal. Settling for second place guarantees a playoff spot, but the less pressure the team can have on them to hold up at the end of the season the better.
In the final five games of the year, the Cardinals play the Brewers in all five. The team gets just one more off day the rest of the season, and if they have to rely on beating the Brewers then to make the playoffs, the odds will be stacked against them.
It’ll be odd to not have a single game of the I-55 rivalry played at Busch Stadium in 2020, but this series is going to be big for the team’s chances to repeat as division winners. It won’t be easy though, the Cubs’ bats have woken up in a big way since the last time the two played. The same can’t be said for the Cardinals.