The St. Louis Cardinals can snuff out the Milwaukee Brewers' playoff hopes over the next three days by winning their last series with a still competitive team.
Or they can breathe life back into the Brew Crew's desperate chances.
According to mlb.com, the Redbirds' playoff chances stand at 99 percent with 12 games to play. The second place Pittsburgh Pirates have a 73 percent chance to make the post season while the third place Brewers are hanging on at 27 percent. The Cincinnati Reds are hanging on at 1 percent while the Cubs flatlined a while back.
It would be in St. Louis' best interests to take at least two of three from the Brewers and put them out of our misery. And it's obvious the Cardinals have a sense of urgency about the match up, altering their rotation to skip the slumping John Lackey to go with their three hottest hurlers.
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But St. Louis, at least so far, has been unable to prove that it can deal a knockout blow. The Redbirds stomped the Brewers by winning three of four in Milwaukee last week. And then they went to Cincinnati and got roughed up by a Reds team with nothing left to win.
Milwaukee has enough pieces that they've been able to remain competitive all season, only falling out of first place in the final leg of the season thanks to an unbelievable cold streak. But the Brewers could be a dangerous team in a short playoff series because they have enough hitting to quickly strike for runs and a pretty good front end of their rotation. Throw in the fact that they added a second reliever with experience as a closer in Jonathan Broxton and they could sneak up on a team.
Putting them six back of the division lead with nine games to play and keeping them behind Pittsburgh for the last wild card spot would make their hopes of making the playoffs nearly impossible.
So send them home now.