The St. Louis Cardinals are finishing up the gauntlet of their schedule in this series, facing their central division foes, the Pirates. After this series, the Cards do not play a team who is currently in a playoff position. The Cardinals need to make hay in their final 19 games, 12 of which are at home.
With the new Major League Baseball playoff format, the incentive to win the division is as great as it has ever been. The Cardinals do not want to settle for the wild card and be faced with a do-or-die game to advance, a game which will in all likelihood be against one of the central division rivals. The club knows the stress of the game, after escaping with a win in the inaugural wild card game last year against the Braves. The Cards need to take advantage of their easy schedule to finish up the season. If this team wants to make a serious playoff run, the first step is to win the division title.
The remaining schedule for the Cardinals goes as follows; three games against the Brewers, and three against the Mariners, both series at home. Then they have their final road trip with four at Colorado and three at Milwaukee. The Cards finish up the season with a homestand facing the Nationals and the Cubs, both three game sets.
With all of their upcoming opponents out of contention, the Cardinals might face a number of young, inexperienced players, especially pitchers, as teams looking to the future try out some of their unknown prospects. The veteran Cardinals must recognize the opportunity to gain ground in the division race, especially since the Pirates and Reds face each other in six more games this season.
The Cardinals have gone a very solid 42-25 at home this year, and the favorable schedule includes many opportunities at Busch Stadium where the Cards’ starting pitchers seem more comfortable. This crucial finishing stretch of the season is an opportunity for Cardinal Nation to give their team a home field advantage and show why they consider themselves the best fans in baseball.