The Race to the Finish – 9.20 Edition

What a weekend it was!  The Cardinals SWEPT the San Diego Padres, while opening their Wild Card Lead to 3 games over Cincinnati, and 3.5 games over San Diego & Philadelphia.  The Cardinals MAGIC NUMBER to clinch the second Wild Card is down to 11 (any combination of Cardinal wins, and whomever is directly behind them losses that adds to 11, more on this later).  The Cardinals are now left with 14 games remaining – all against Milwaukee and Chicago.  Let’s see how this week looks for the Cardinals and the teams chasing them for the second wild card spot!

Who do the Cardinals play this week?

Starting today, the Cardinals go on the road for 8 games in 7 days, starting in Milwaukee for 4, and then a double header Friday in Chicago, followed by afternoon games Saturday & Sunday. I think the Cardinals will know much more about their playoff chances following this 2 city, 8 game road trip this week.

To start off the Cardinals week, the Milwaukee Brewers are looking to wrap up the Central Division as their Magic Number is down to 3.  The only way the Cardinals can avoid watching the Brewers celebrate winning the division, is to take a minimum of 3 out of 4 games.  The Cardinals will throw Woodford, Lester, Mikolas, and Wainwright, while the Brewers will counter with Peralta, Woodruff, undecided, and Houser.  The Cardinals currently would miss Corbin Burnes, however I think the Brewers could shuffle their rotation to have Houser pitch Wednesday and Burnes Thursday.  Time will tell in this important series. 

The Cardinals week will finish with 4 games in 3 days against the hated Cubs.  Two 7 inning games are on the books for Friday, followed by afternoon games Saturday and Sunday.  It never seems to be easy for the Cardinals at Wrigley, but anything less than 3 out 4 this weekend should be considered a failure.  Sweeping on Friday would go a long way towards winning 3 out of 4.

What other games should I be paying attention to/ Who should I be rooting for?

There are currently 3 teams within a half game of each other, the Reds, Phillies, and Padres; they are all trying to chase down the Cardinals for the final playoff spot.  The Reds have the easiest schedule remaining as they play the Pirates 6 more times, the Nationals for 4, the White Sox for 2 (Reds are off today). The Padres finish their season with ALL of their games against the top four teams in the NL – 6 against the Giants, 4 against the Braves, and 3 with the Dodgers.  The Phillies, only 2 games back in the NL East, host the Orioles for 3, the Pirates for 4, and then go on the road to finish their schedule at Atlanta for 3 and Miami for 3. 

The Pirates are 8-4 over their last 4 series – they could really help St. Louis out by continuing their winning ways this week against Cincinnati and Philadelphia on their 7 game road trip. A 4-3 week for the Pirates would be great news for St. Louis!

How does the Magic Number work?

With the Cardinals Magic Number at 11 – here’s a breakdown of what would need to happen for the Cardinals to clinch.

If the Cardinals go 14-0, 13-1, 12-2, or 11-3 – they would win the second Wild Card without any help.

If the Cardinals go 10-4, the Reds/Phillies/Padres would have to win out to tie.

If the Cardinals go 9-5 the Reds/Phillies/Padres would only be able to lose once to tie.

The pattern continues!  Every day, based upon how the games go, this also will change.

Look for another update mid-week, as the Cardinals hope to extend their winning streak to 9 in Milwaukee tonight!

Thanks for reading!

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