Cardinals: St. Louis favorites to win second NL wild card spot

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Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after hitting an RBI double against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after hitting an RBI double against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals are favorites to win the second National League wild card spot.

Following a loss to the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 5, the St. Louis Cardinals were eight game back of the second National League wild card spot. While the season was not over, of course, they were on the brink of falling out of playoff contention and needed a quick turnaround to save their season.

Fast forward six weeks and the Cardinals lead the second NL wild card spot by 1.5 games. They are the favorites to win the spot, with FanGraphs listing their playoff odds at 41.3 percent. Their World Series chances, albeit still slim, have climbed on WynnBet.

Their win on Friday night against the San Diego Padres underscored just how far they’ve come — and just how dangerous they are. Dylan Carlson, a promising young outfielder, hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the eighth inning that pulled the Cardinals away and sealed a victory. If he steps up, and the team hopes Friday is only the beginning, having a hot Carlson alongside Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill further changes the outlook on their offense and provides more reason for optimism down the stretch.

The pitching continues to be a strength, too. Adam Wainwright has been dominant. Jon Lester, J.A. Happ and Miles Mikolas have exceeded expectations. Jack Flaherty should be back at some point soon, although in a different capacity than as the team’s unquestioned ace. He simply will not have enough time to build himself up to pitch too many innings, making him a likely candidate to be an Opener down the stretch.

The offense and pitching, paired with the team’s No. 1 ranked defense, has fueled their six-game winning streak. The defense have helped Happ and Lester to pitch deep into games and avoid taxing the bullpen — a unit that has been much better since removing Alex Reyes from the ninth inning.

All season, the Cardinals have promised a dominant stretch. It has arrived in full force — and has put them on the doorstep of advancing to the postseason when most people had written them off on Aug. 5.

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