With the Milwaukee Brewers getting their 17th win in 19 tries Tuesday night, it appears the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t going to get any help to grab the National League Central Division crown.
Even if Milwaukee won four of its last six games, it would benefit St. Louis tremendously. The Cardinals would only have to win one of their remaining five to bypass the Wild Card Game and enter a best of five match-up in the National League Division Series. But the Brewers finish against two teams that have nothing left to play for, the Cincinnati Reds and the Colorado Rockies, and those clubs are playing like it. So it seems the Cardinals are going to have to do their part to win this thing themselves.
Taking three wins in their last five games isn’t going to be easy. The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t want to roll over for the Cardinals because they sent their franchise player, Paul Goldschmidt, to St. Louis over the winter. St. Louis eliminated the D-Backs from the playoff picture Monday night and the Cardinals are back in the postseason for the first time in three years. Might Goldy be the difference maker for both teams? Arizona doesn’t want that question rubbed in its nose all winter. St. Louis comes home after its last road trip of the year to close out the season with the Chicago Cubs. Does anyone think for a minute that the Cubs wouldn’t like to spoil St. Louis’ party after the Cardinals humiliated them in a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field last weekend? If you believe the rumor mill, Chicago manager Joe Maddon is trying to save his job as is team architect Theo Epstein. The Cubs might not be going anywhere but to the golf course in October. But they’d love to do some damage to the Cardinals’ playoff aspirations on their way out the door.
In this case, taking the hard way might be for the best. Often, the team that does the best in the playoffs is the one that gets hot at the right time. While the Brewers have a good head of steam up, St. Louis needs to stay sharp.
Let Milwaukee stay hot because it could end up paying off for the Cardinals. Imagine a scenario where the Brewers defeat the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card Game and then go to Los Angeles and take down the Dodgers. If St. Louis could manage to get past the Atlanta Braves in their National League Division Series, I’d much rather play the Brewers without Christian Yelich than the Dodgers and their high-dollar roster.
Saying goodbye to Michael Wacha
As we close out the season, it looks like the Michael Wacha era in St. Louis is winding down to it’s last few games, and that’s a real shame. It was about this time of year just a few seasons back when the youngster announced his presence with authority down the stretch and then in the playoffs. It looked for all the world that the kid was going to be the next Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright. But, unfortunately, his promising career was derailed by shoulder trouble that made him both less dominating and less consistent.
Wacha has been darn good at times. But he ought to be the ace of the Cardinals right now, paired up with Alex Reyes to comprise a one-two punch that other teams can’t stand the thought of facing. And he ought to have a shiny new five-year contract to sign. But, unfortunately, it looks like the numbers game is going to force him to find a new home in 2020. I hate to see a guy who was so good be diminished by injuries. If he can’t reclaim his career at Busch Stadium, I hope Wacha is able to go somewhere in the American League and make good on all that promise he arrived with five years ago.