Why the upcoming stretch will decide Cardinals’ season
The St Louis Cardinals are currently 10 games back in the NL Central and if they hope to cut that deficit, the perfect time to do that is now.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in the midst of the stretch that will help define their season. Twenty-one of their next 24 games will be played against teams that have a record under .500, with the other three games coming against the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that leads them in the National League Central by 10 games entering Tuesday.
And the Cardinals will be attempting to catch the Brewers with a rotation that all throws under 90 mph, as pointed out by Jeff Jones of the Belleville News, which makes them the only team in MLB to have such a rotation.
It will make the task of catching the Brewers and other teams in the division that much harder, especially since their two additions — left-handers J.A. Happ and Jon Lester — each have ERAs above 5. But the Cardinals have started off the stretch on a high note, going 6-4 in their last 10 games, though they also trail the San Diego Padres for the second wild-card spot by 6.5 games. Yet the team remains optimistic about their chances, but refuse to look too far ahead.
“If we win the rest of our series, we’ll feel pretty good for the rest of the year,” manager Mike Shildt said, via Katie Woo of The Athletic. “I’ll take our chances with winning series .. and see where it adds up.”
As Woo said, almost everything will need to go right for the Cardinals to catch the Brewers and/or Padres. They need the offense to step up, with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldshmidt getting hot at the same time. They need the bullpen, headlined by Alex Reyes, to remain dominant. And they’ll need the newcomers Happ and Lester to help lead the rotation until Jack Flaherty comes off the injured list.
It’s a lot of “needs” and “What ifs,” but the Cardinals’ upcoming stretch allows some reason for optimism. But that optimism could quickly vanish with a couple of series losses.