The Cardinals have been in a dog fight for the 2nd Wild Card spot all season, but should their sights really be set on the 1st spot?
The Cards have been in an intense playoff battle all season. Recently though, they have started to separate themselves from the pack, taking sole possession of the 2nd Wild Card spot.
In front of the Cardinals are the San Francisco Giants who are competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West division title. Despite a 6.5 game Wild Card lead going into the All-Star Break, since returning from the break, the Giants have the worst record in the MLB at 11-23. This has not only shown that they might not have what it takes to compete with the Dodgers for the NL West, but it’s also put the Cardinals within 1.5 games of the first Wild Card spot and a chance to be at home for the play-in game. With only 38 games left in the season and 4 head to head games left on the schedule, the Cardinals have a great opportunity to take over that spot.
To play devils advocate, the Cardinals have been historically bad at home this season with a 28-34 record at Busch, and they might rather cruise to the end of the season if possible rather than dogging it out for Wild Card spot #1.
Realistically, though, the Cardinals would never do that. They are going to play every game hard until their fate is sealed. In the playoffs, the Cardinals regular season home woes will not matter and they would have a greater advantage playing in St. Louis.
The slumping Giants are definitely in striking distance for the Cards. Though its doable, it won’t be easy. The Giants are an experienced team that historically performs well down the stretch, and they have the 3rd easiest schedule in the MLB with 21 games against teams whose record is under .500. That being said, they still need to play well against the poor teams, and the Cardinals schedule isn’t particularly difficult either.
Regardless of the outcome, the Giants recent woes have made the Wild Card race more exciting, and have given the Cards a chance to play at Busch in a do or die game to start the playoffs.