The St. Louis Cardinals are now the favorite to win the National League Central — and look primed to make a postseason run.
Entering July, the Milwaukee Brewers were the favorites to win the National League Central, though the St. Louis Cardinals continued to lurk a few games behind. Then the trade deadline happened and everything changed.
In a stunning move, the Brewers traded star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres and didn’t add a single bat to their lineup. The Cardinals, meanwhile, traded Harrison Bader for left-hander Jordan Montgomery and acquired left-hander Jose Quintana from the Pirates.
The result has been the Cardinals surging – they’re 9-1 in their last 10 games – while the Brewers are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Entering Tuesday, the Cardinals lead the NL Central by two games, and are now the favorites to win the division (59.2 percent) while having a 76.7 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.
There are 54 games left, of course, so a lot can change. But the Cardinals have the feel of a team that can not just win the division, but make a deep postseason run. Just look at the series sweep against the Yankees, where St. Louis won with both strong pitching (most notably Montgomery and Quintana) while the offense continued to perform at a high level, led by Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.
That series was a statement to the rest of the league and underscored that the Cardinals can beat anyone. And it’s not only why they went and acquired Arenado last season, but prioritized adding Quintana and Montgomery over a player like Juan Soto, who would have required the team to gut their farm system.
Sure, Soto would have formed an elite trio with Arenado and Goldschmidt, and perhaps would have made the Cardinals the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series. But even without Soto, the Cardinals’ revamped roster looks capable of not just winning the Central, but competing against the Dodgers in October.