Meet the St. Louis Cardinals’ newest wild card threat
The Padres and Reds have been viewed as the St. Louis Cardinals’ biggest wild card threats, but don’t overlook the Philadelphia Phillies.
The St. Louis Cardinals have primarily been battling the Padres and Reds for the second National League wild card spot. But don’t look now because here come the Philadelphia Phillies, who are surging in the playoff race with a month remaining in the regular season.
The Phillies are 69-64 and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are only two games behind the Braves in the NL East, making it entirely possible they win the division outright, though they are now ahead of the Cardinals in the wild card race — further complicating what has already been improbable playoff chances.
Entering Friday, the Reds have control of the second NL wild card spot. The Padres trail by a half game. The Phillies trail by two games. The Cardinals, meanwhile, trail by 2.5 games and enter a pivotal three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, who are among the best teams in baseball, at American Family Field.
At one point, the Phillies looked like they were on the verge of falling out of the playoff race. They did little at the trade deadline, acquiring Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy at the trade deadline, to help their pitching staff. But it’s been their offense that has surged lately, scoring seven or more runs in seven consecutive games, which is the longest streak since 1933.
Compare that with the Cardinals, who have an inconsistent offense, and that could spell trouble. Paul Goldschmidt has stepped up lately, however, and been one of the best hitters in baseball. That’s helped them stay in contention despite the underperforming offense and plethora of injuries in the rotation and bullpen.
But it hasn’t been enough to help the Cardinals catch the Reds or Padres. Adding the Phillies to the mix makes that task even tougher, placing even more weight on the shoulders of Nolan Arenado to step up. Catching, and eventually passing, all three teams in the wild card race won’t be possible unless both he and Goldschmidt get scorching hot at the same time.