How and when the St. Louis Cardinals can clinch a postseason spot. Spoiler: keep winning.
Their magic number is three. All they need to do to secure a playoff spot is continue to win. But to lock up a postseason berth by Monday, they need to win their next two games while the Philadelphia Phillies lose just one game.
That should not prove difficult, considering that the Cardinals are baseball’s hottest team. The running joke among baseball people is that they may never lose again. They will have to lose at some point, of course, but they have firmly established themselves as the team no one wants to face in a winner-take-all wild card game.
Because there is a legitimate chance that the Cardinals, who are increasingly likely to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the wild card game, can knock them out of the postseason. After acquiring Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, pairing them with Mookie Betts and a star-studded roster, it would be a crushing way to end their season — and a reality they face when/if they have to play St. Louis in the wild card round.
It won’t be easy, of course, because the Dodgers will start Scherzer, who is a favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. When he faced the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sept. 6, he went eight innings and allowed one run (unearned) while striking out 13. The Cardinals are a different team than they were then, but Scherzer remains the same dominant frontline starter. They will have their work cut out for them.
But first the Cardinals need to clinch a playoff spot. The Dodgers still have a chance to win the NL West, but those chances have faded now that they are two games behind the Giants. All signs point to a Cardinals-Dodgers wild card game — and St. Louis could clinch their spot in that round by Monday.