The Remains Of The Season

The magic number has now reached Yadier Molina.  With 5 games left to play, that’s reassuring.  It would be helpful if the Pirates would lose already.  The Bucs have no opponent left to give them fits, seeing as how they are playing the hapless Braves and the washed up Reds.  The Pirates don’t play well on the road, they have a worse road record than the Cardinals do.  So I am hoping they suffer a loss or two along this last road trip. I would like to have a little more breathing room and not have the outcome unknown until the last game of the regular season.

I worry how the Cardinals’ often absent offense will play out in the playoffs.  This was the major issue with the World Series loss to the Red Sox in 2013.  That, and pitching to David Ortiz.  And pitching Seth Maness against Jonny Gomes.  And some bad defense.  Okay, now I’m really worried about all those things except the bad defense.  We won’t be pitching to David Ortiz or Jonny Gomes (well we might with Gomes since he now plays for Oakland), but Mike Matheny‘s decision making will still be there.

Our likely NLDS opponent is the Dodgers.  The Nationals have a pretty strong hold on the best record right now.  The Cardinals would have to go 5-0 in their remaining games and the Nationals would have to go 1-6 in theirs.  Not going to happen (4-1 and 0-7 would get it done too, but even less likely to happen).  Therefore, the Cardinals must do their Clayton Kershaw Playoff Beatdown thing again, and figure out how in the heck to get to Zack Greinke.  The Cardinals must also try to end up with a better record than the Dodgers, to get home field advantage. That is still a tall order.  4-1 from the Cardinals would mean the Dodgers would have to go 2-3 to lose best record.  Not impossible but not probable. 3-2 from the Cardinals would require 1-4 from the Dodgers.  Seeing as how the Dodgers play their last series with the Rockies, I don’t see that happening.

So assuming no home field advantage, the Cardinals record against the Dodgers in LA this season is 1-3.  Not promising.  For 2011-2013 the record is 6-4.  So in essence, it’s probably a toss up.  The record at Busch against the Dodgers is a toss up as well;  From 2011-2014 the Cardinals are 6-6.  I would still rather play them at home.

As for the roster, well that remains to be seen.  The rotation is likely to be Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and one of Michael Wacha/John Lackey.  I would prefer Lackey at this point.  Lackey has a strong postseason record and Wacha’s health is still iffy.  The question will be if Wacha doesn’t start, will he be in the bullpen?  As for the remainder of the bullpen, I think Jason Motte should be left off, and possibly Kevin Siegrist.  Position players are easier; Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Oscar Taveras, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk for sure, then back up catcher.  The remaining 3 on the bench are up for grabs.  I would rather have Pete Kozma than Daniel Descalso, but Mike Matheny is not going to leave his favorite player off the roster.  Perhaps both will be on, but Xavier Scruggs as a back up to Adams would make more sense.  Of course that means it definitely won’t happen.  The final player could be a third catcher.

All will be known (and likely complained about) by October 3, when the first game of the NLDS is played.  No doubt Wainwright will pitch Game 1.  Wainwright is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Diamondbacks; whether he will or not may be determined by whether the Cardinals have clinched before then.  Even if he does pitch on Sunday, he would still be on normal rest to pitch Game 1 on Friday.  Clayton Kershaw, the likely Game 1 starter for the Dodgers, pitches his last game of the regular season tomorrow (unless there is an improbable scenario that forces him to pitch on short rest on Sunday).  Assuming the probable, Kershaw will pitch Game 1 on a long rest.  Whether this is good or bad is unknown.

The sprint is on, and may the best team (the Cardinals, in our hearts anyway) be the victor.

Thank you for reading.

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