Cleat Geeks

Into the Cardinals Nest: What Adjustments Must the Cardinals Make to Clinch the Wildcard?

The 2016 St. Louis Cardinals season is different from the past few years. Cardinal fans want to see the team win division titles and make waves in the playoffs even in years when they don’t get to the World Series. This year they are fighting to just to stay alive. The race for the Central Division is lost to the rival Chicago Cubs but the Cardinals can still try for a wildcard spot. The question is if they can make the right adjustments at the right time.busch_stadium

The best thing about this Cardinal team is that they do a great job at keeping opposing teams’ crowds out of games. They have a 38-24 record on the road. Unfortunately, their knack for keeping crowds out of games extends to their own fans. They have only managed to win 29 games at home while dropping 35 of them. If the Cardinals want any success in the playoffs they need to find ways to win at Busch. Even if they end up playing the wildcard game on the road, they have to play in St. Louis eventually so it would be best for them to start stringing some wins together at home now while they can.

The Cardinal offense needs to continue to produce runs. Brandon Moss and Jedd Gyorko are doing well in games as of late. They have been getting good power off their bats and contributing runs. Moss has four home runs and nine RBI’s in his last 7 games.  Gyorko has three home runs and five RBI’s in his last 7. The rest of the team must follow their example. Matt Carpenter has returned to his leadoff spot recently and he immediately hit a home run on his first game there. If he continues showing off that power in the leadoff spot, there is no Reyes3Dtelling how far the Cardinals can go.

The pitching for the Cards is struggling to find its’ way. Their usual ace, Adam Wainwright is not on top of his game. His season has been one of ups and downs with a 9-8 record and a 4.67 ERA. Luke Weaver is taking Michael Wacha’s spot in the rotation and he has a loss on his record but there is a small window of time for him to improve. Carlos Martinez is the best pitcher in the starting rotation with 12 wins, 7 losses and a 3.13 ERA. The biggest asset that the Cardinals have is in their bullpen. Alex Reyes has amazed many since being called up from Memphis. He recently got his first save in the majors and has yet to allow a run in 2016. All of the pitchers must keep the ball down and keep leads. Seung Hwan-Oh is an amazing closer but he cannot get on the field unless the starters, and the bullpen can keep leads.

There is still time left before all the races end. The best thing the Cardinals can do is focus on getting wins and staying in the wildcard. Winning several games at home and continuing their success on the road is important if the Cardinals expect to make a deep run for the Series. It will be tough but if any team can come together and win big games when it matters, it’s the Cardinals.

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