After winning 5 out of the last 6 games, the Cardinals now face the Cincinnati Reds in a key divisional series.

Today, the Cardinals are starting their second consecutive series at home against the Cincinnati Reds. So far, the schedule makers have been kind to the Cardinals and the team has taken advantage, winning 5 out of their last 6 games against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves (both clubs are in the midst of a rebuilding year). Up next, are the Reds, which many experts are expecting to be one of the worst teams in baseball.

The Reds surprised everybody by coming out of the gates hot and winning 5 out of their first 6 games against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was especially shocking to see the Reds take 2 out of 3 against the Pirates, after the Cardinals had just been swept in their opening series by them. However, in Reds’ most recent series, they were swept by the Chicago Cubs and none of the three games were closely contested. The Cubs outscored the Reds 22 to 6 in the series at Wrigley.

The Cardinals start today tied for 2nd in the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds at 5-4. This series will be very important as both teams are trying to stay in second in the division. For the Cardinals, this series is especially important because they need to win as many games as they can in this easy portion of their schedule before they start playing contenders.

The Reds will likely cool down after their hot start and start losing games. They simply don’t have the talent to compete in what should be a 3 horse race with the Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals in the NL Central.

With the Cubs living up to their offseason hype and starting with the best record in baseball at 9-1, the Cardinals will likely have to battle it out with the Pirates for a playoff spot come September.

A three game sweep against the Reds will do wonders for the Cardinals confidence. If they win the next three games, they will be 8-4, which is a very, very good record after starting 0-3.  A sweep will definitely be possible with the Cardinals sending out three very good pitchers in Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, and Michael Wacha. At the very least, the Cardinals need to at least take 2 out of 3.

Conversely, losing this series to an inferior team will be detrimental to the team’s confidence. When the Cardinals blew their second game against the Brewers, there was a feeling around the city of “Wow, we should’ve won that game.” That is not a good feeling to have, especially for a team dealing with a lot of injuries and relying on young players to step back. Even though we are only in the first month, the Cardinals must win this series against the Reds.

After this series, the Chicago Cubs will be coming to town and the Cardinals will be playing against their first real legitimate World Series contender. That is when we can truly see what this team is made of. For now, the Cardinals have been gifted an easy start against 3 very bad teams. They need to get as many wins as they can during this stretch before the real games begin.