How the Cardinals can play spoiler for playoff-hopeful teams in September

With one month left in the season, the Cardinals have the chance to play spoiler for potential playoff teams. Which teams' seasons can the Cardinals impact the greatest in the final month?
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Philadelphia Phillies loses home-field advantage

The past two years have been energizing for the city of Philadelphia. This year, the average attendance for games in Philly is around 38,000 people, up by 10,000 from 2022 and up 5,000 from 2019. The team has risen from the dregs of the NL East to a perennial contender. Currently, the Phillies hold the top Wild Card spot and sit in second place in the NL East with a record of 76-61 (14. 5 games behind the Braves, which says a lot about how dominant Atlanta has been).

The Phillies and the Cardinals face off from September 15th through September 17th in St. Louis. Both teams have an off day on the 14th, so they will be well-rested. When these two teams faced each other in late August, the Phillies swept the Cardinals with some dominant pitching performances. Hopefully, the Cardinals can get some payback this time around.

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Tankathon places Philadelphia in the top 10 hardest schedules remaining. With just a 2.5-game lead over the Cubs (12th easiest schedule), it is plausible the Phillies get leapfrogged in the Wild Card race. The St. Louis Cardinals can start that process with a strong series against the Fighting Phils. With a sweep or even series victory, the NL Wild Card, which is already crowded, can get even messier very quickly. Falling into the second Wild Card spot means the Phillies will lose home-field advantage in the Wild Card Round.