With the Marlins slugger going down on the DL, find out why the Cardinals are the team to beat for the 2nd Wild card spot.

The 2016 season has not brought many playoff races. 4 of the 6 divisions leaders have at least a 5 game lead and in the other 2, the second team has the first Wild Card spot. There are still 2 very competitive races in each league for the 2nd Wild Card both with 4 teams competing for each spot.

In the National League, the Cardinals currently are 1 game ahead for the second Wild Card spot, ahead of the Miami Marlins, but with the Marlins best player, Giancarlo Stanton, going down with a season ending injury, the Cardinals are now the team to beat.

Before the Stanton injury, the Marlins were already very depleted. They’ve been playing without their closer, AJ Ramos whose had a tremendous year, power hitting first baseman Justin Bour, and starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The Marlins are ranked 29th in the league in homeruns with 98 on the season (Atlanta has hit 79). Bour and Stanton have combined to hit 40 homeruns on the season, 40% of the teams power is currently on the DL.

Their starting pitching has been concerning to put it nicely. Only Jose Fernandez and Tommy Koehler were in their starting pitching staff on opening day. David Phelps has been tremendous out of the bullpen all season but was forced to join the starting rotation when Miami were looking under rocks to find pitching. He has pitched very well but has not been able to pitch past the 5th inning because they still need to stretch him out. Andrew Cashner has continued his lack of success since being traded from San Diego to Miami. Their 5th starter is rookie Jose Urena who holds a 6.69 ERA on the season and was originally moved into the bullpen after giving up 8 runs against the Cardinals on July 29th.

Now you get it, the Marlins were hanging on by a thread before Stanton’s injury, but now they simply cannot keep competing. They are tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot but do not have the depth to continue to compete without Stanton. The Marlins only hope is that they have one of the easiest schedules in baseball for the rest of the season. 20 of their 43 Remaining games are played against teams that are under .500 on the season.

When looking at the other teams in the 2nd Wild Card race, the Cardinals are clearly the team to beat. The New York Mets have been very shaky all season. They have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games and are treading water with a .500 record. The Pirates are 1 game out of the 2nd Wild Card and have the best chance of catching the Cardinals but do not have the starting pitching to compete down the stretch. They also play the Cardinals 6 more times including the final 3 games of the season and the Cardinals have had the Pirates number all season. Those head to head games will truly determine who moves on and who goes home and the Cardinals have matched up very well against the Pirates in 2016.

The Cardinals have been dealing with injuries all season but have had the depth to overcome them. They’ve had veteran leadership on and off the field from Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright which will give them an advantage down the stretch. All 4 teams competing for the 2nd Wild Card have simply been hanging around but its time for the Cardinals to assert their dominance and take firm advantage of the 2nd Wild Card spot.