Cleat Geeks

Into the Cardinals Nest: Can the Cardinals Make The Playoffs?

The Cardinals are in a hotly contested wild card race with 17 games left in the season. They are 2 games back of both the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants for a wildcard spot. There is some time for the Cardinals to clinch a spot in the playoffs but it will take winning most, if not all of their remaining games and some luck. If this team truly is anything like the team in 2011, there is nothing that will stop them.mattcarpentercenter

The Cardinals need strong performances out of all their hitters. During the 2016 regular season, they have relied too heavily on the long ball. Home runs are fine but playing some small ball will help the Cardinals in the long run. Power hitters like Matt Carpenter or Matt Adams can hit all the homers in the world but it does not matter too much if there is nobody on base when they happen. Also, the Cards cannot afford to run into too many outs while running the bases. That has led to some potentially big runs being squandered. If the Cards want to clinch a wildcard spot and get to the NLDS, it is important that they do not live and die by the home run and focus on getting the ball on the ground a little more often.

carlosmartinezcenterNormally, pitching has been the bread and butter for the Cardinals for many seasons while the offense has been stagnant. 2016 is the exception to this rule. The starting rotation has not found its’ usual groove. Adam Wainwright has a 4.51 ERA and he would normally be a reliable ace. Mike Leake has a 4.54 ERA and his starts are very spotty at times. Luke Weaver is doing well with a 3.51 ERA. While his record is 1-3, his main problem is not getting the run support he needs. Carlos Martinez is a solid choice to start the wildcard game should the Cards get that far. He has a 3.15 ERA and a 14-8 record so he would be the best bet for a one game playoff.  If the Cardinals want to make the wildcard, the starting pitchers must keep the runs earned to a minimum.  The bullpen needs to do their part as well. Trevor Rosenthal has a lot to prove since returning to bullpen duties alongside Kevin Siegrist and Zach Duke. Hopefully trevorrosenthalRosenthal’s return will give the Cardinals a boost going into the last 17 games of the season.

The Cardinals have a tougher schedule than the Mets or Giants going forward but the thing to remember is that it has never been easy for the Cardinals. In 2015, they had 100 wins but lots of injuries but still managed to win the division a game in the NLDS before exiting. In 2011, they made it through the wildcard and won the series when it did not look like they would make it to the playoffs. Getting through the last stretch of 2016 is just one more challenge for the Cardinals to overcome and they are masters at accomplishing the improbable.

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