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Are the Cardinals Contenders or Pretenders?

With only 50 games left in the season, do the Cardinals really have the roster to make it to the 2016 postseason?

It’s safe to say that the Cardinals have not had the 2016 season that they expected. With 50 games left on the schedule, they are over 10 games back of the division leaders, the Chicago Cubs, and are desperately clinging onto a Wild Card spot. On top of that, their home record is ranked 23rd in MLB. Their offense has been able to carry them so far this season while their pitching has been, let’s say, inconsistent.

The Cardinals were almost silent at the busiest trade deadline in history and it has shown since. They have lost both series following the deadline. Losing 2 series in a row is not the end of the world but losing two series to the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds, two teams that traded away of their star players at the break, is a problem.

It’s almost impossible that the Cards are still in the Wild Card race considering how horribly they have played at home this season. MLB teams are supposed to beat up on home and play .500 on the road. Thankfully for the Cardinals, they have the second most road wins in the league at 32, only the Washington Nationals have more, with 33. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, this is unsustainable, especially down the stretch. Every game is starting to feel like a playoff game and home field advantage is becoming increasingly important.

At this point, it’s safe to say that the first Wild Card spot will go to the Dodgers or Giants, with one of the teams winning the NL West. The Cardinals only way of playing in October is by winning the second Wild Card spot. Currently, it is a competition between the Marlins, Cardinals, and Mets with Miami and St. Louis currently holding the position but all three teams are 2 games apart. While the Cardinals do not have any more games against either team, the Marlins and Mets will face each other 6 more times allowing the Cardinals to gain ground on them both.

Now the Cardinals are going to have a tough time winning this 3 team race. The Mets arguably have the best pitching staff in the league and they have not even been performing to their potential. They are also getting Zach Wheeler back in a few weeks. Unlike the Cardinals, their General Manager Sandy Alderson went out at the trade deadline and acquired Jay Bruce to address their struggling offense.

Likewise, the Marlins will also be extremely hard for the Cardinals to beat out. The Marlins have one of the best bullpens in the NL with AJ Ramos only blowing one save this season and the former closer Fernando Rodney setting up for him. Their offense has been one of the best in the NL, leading the NL in hits and average. Their only weakness is their starting pitching. Wei-Yin Chen went down on July 21st with an elbow injury so Marlins General Manager Michael Hill went out and acquired Andrew Cashner from the San Diego Padres.

Although Cardinals fans will never admit it, the 2016 Cardinals are pretenders. They simply do not have the players to compete down the stretch and have underperformed too much. Unless the Cards seriously turn things around, they will not be playing baseball in October.

Hopefully last night’s comeback will push them into the contender status