The Cardinals have been playing solid baseball as of late, but they still face a large deficit in the NL Central.

As we approach the All Star break, it is time to start taking the standings seriously. As the great Yogi Berra always said “It gets late early out there”. As of June 14th, the Cardinals are 9.5 games out of first place. While they do hold the first Wild Card spot, the Cardinals are playing for the division, not just the playoffs. The question is though, can the Cardinals make up for lost ground or is the Wild Card their only chance of playing baseball in October.

Even as a Cardinals fan, there is no denying that the Cubs are the best team in baseball by far. They are currently on track to win 113 games this season, 3 short of the MLB record (116 Cubs 1906, Mariners 2001). The Cubs are a complete team; they can pitch, hit, and field but lack a dominate bullpen that could cost them down the stretch. Not only are the Cubs one of the most talented teams in baseball, but they will also have one of the easiest schedules in baseball. They have 12 more games against the Reds, 14 against the Brewers, and 7 games against the Marlins.

Now the Cardinals have the firepower to compete down the stretch. Their pitching (besides Michael Wacha) has FINALLY come together. Adam Wainwright has finally learned how to pitch again and has lead their rotation. The bullpen has held up strong and the Cardinals bench has really stepped up to the plate (literally) this season. Although Cardinals fans will hate to say it, Manager Mike Matheny has done a tremendous job making sure all of his players have an ample amount of starting time and rest. He has juggled 10 starters in only 8 fielding positions.

So even with the Cardinals coming alive, can they catch up to the Cubs. The Redbirds will play thirteen games against the Cubs and could potentially control their own destiny. Granted, they will have to win almost all of them for that to happen but by the numbers, it is possible. While the Cardinals don’t have as easy of a schedule as the Cubs, it is not the hardest either. They can beat up on the Reds 10 times, Brewers 13, and have series with other weak teams such as the Padres, Marlins and Athletics.

Now with 98 games left in the season, I’m not saying its impossible for the Cardinals to come back and win the division. I’m not even saying its that crazy to think it. I’m just saying, it’s not likely. There have been crazier come backs in baseball history.

We learned in 2011 not to count this Cardinals team out but this Cubs team is young, talented and led by, in my opinion, the best manager in baseball in Joe Maddon. If the Cardinals don’t want their season to rest on one game, they’re going to have to continue to play good baseball down the stretch.

Photo captured by Charles LeClaire- USA Today Sports

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