After looking sluggish for much of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals have flipped a switch lately.
The team is 10-5 over its last 15 games and 19-13 since the All-Star break.
Many fans dismissed the Cardinals’ playoff chances earlier in the summer, but right now, the club is firmly in the mix in the National League Wild Card race.
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Wild Card Picture
Right now, the Cardinals are 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with 39 games to play.
Here’s what the race looks like:
- Wild Card Spot No. 1: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Wild Card Spot No. 2: Cincinnati Reds
- In The Hunt: San Diego Padres (1.0 GB of Reds)
- In The Hunt: Cardinals (4.5 GB of Reds)
St. Louis will have to pass both Cincinnati and San Diego in order to secure a playoff bid.
It’s a tall task, but it’s possible.
Let’s take a look at a couple of the reasons Cardinals fans should be optimistic about their chances.
Paul Goldschmidt Has Turned It Up A Notch Lately
For much of the year, those two players weren’t producing at their usual levels.
But lately, Goldschmidt has turned things around.
Over his last 17 games, he’s batting .382 with a .1009 OPS, two homers, seven doubles, and 14 runs batted in.
Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals (19) pic.twitter.com/ZbgeU53zId
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 22, 2021
He’s currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .422 with a 1.135 OPS.
Needless to say, the 33-year-old has been seeing the ball extremely well lately.
He has arguably been St. Louis’ most important ingredient offensively over the team’s recent hot streak, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Pitching Reinforcements Are On The Way
Adam Wainwright has been the lone constant in the St. Louis rotation this season.
He’s the only pitcher on the staff with at least 20 starts (in fact, he has 25), and he has been extremely reliable all year long.
The veteran has a 3.10 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP.
Not bad for a guy who is about to turn 40 years old.
Yesterday was Adam Wainwright's second game this season with 8+ IP, 0 BBs, and 0 ERs
He's the seventh pitcher since 1970 to do that twice in a season at age-39 or older pic.twitter.com/poXc9WUHYE
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) August 23, 2021
As good as he has been all season, he has been even better lately.
He has a 1.76 ERA over his last seven starts, and the Cardinals are 6-1 in those games.
On the year, St. Louis is 15-10 when Wainwright gets the ball.
He has certainly been carrying the load, and he really hasn’t had a choice, because many of the Cardinals’ other starters have dealt with injuries throughout the year.
Once that happens, the Cardinals will be able to roll with a rotation that looks something like this:
- Wainwright (3.10 ERA)
- Jack Flaherty (2.68 ERA)
- Miles Mikolas (3.77 ERA for career, has only made two starts this season)
- Kim (3.36 ERA)
- LeBlanc (3.61 ERA)
Happ probably has more of a case to remain in the rotation than Lester does.
We’ll have to see what the team chooses to do.
But regardless, the rotation is about to be in great shape.
With a pitching staff like that, St. Louis could go on a lengthy run.