I don’t know how many times it has been said already during this season but the St. Louis Cardinals can just not shake the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently they sit only 2.5 games up on both teams who are tied for the wildcard spots. The good news is that the Cardinals final series is against the Chicago Cubs while the Reds and Pirates will play each other on the final weekend of the regular season. The bad news is that they have to get through the hottest team in the National League before they get to the weekend.
Beginning early this week the Cardinals will have to face off against the Washington Nationals. The Nats are playing great baseball and they are more than desperate to prove what could have been. Their playoff chances are basically done now but don’t think for a second that they are anything other than deadly to the Cardinals. It is a good thing that the Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot but they know better than anyone how drastically critical that one game wildcard playoff can be.
That means they want to win their division. That means that they will have to get through the Nationals. Simply put, the Reds and Pirates are playing winnable series for the first part of this final week. The Cardinals therefore have to win their games against the Nationals, two of three at least, so that they do not wind up only .5 or 1.5 games ahead of their rivals when the weekend gets here. If they take care of the Nationals, they can just sit back and watch the drama unfold between the Reds and Pirates from waiting division series position.