ST. LOUIS (Baseball STL) -- The obvious race to watch as it pertains to the Cardinals down the stretch of the regular season is between the Cards and the Brewers. Milwaukee’s the team that poses the biggest threat to the Redbirds winning the NL Central. And as we all know, winning your division is the difference between getting a bye into the NLDS and having to play a one-game wild card in order to get there.
But there’s another race to keep an eye on as well. The race for the best record in the National League.
The goal is to win the World Series right? Not just win your division? Well if that’s the case, you need to put yourself in the best possible position to make a deep run. And as a lot of people learned last year, having home field advantage is absolutely crucial in October baseball.
Can you sit here and say the Cards would’ve beaten the Pirates if that series was in Pittsburgh for three of the five games? How about the NLCS if it was in Los Angeles more? Remember, the Cardinals lost to the Red Sox when Boston had home field advantage.
At this juncture, the Redbirds have the worst record in the NL among division leaders. Washington is 79-60 while LA is 79-62. The Cards are 77-64 entering games on Saturday. That would mean the Nationals – if the playoffs began today – would have the luxury of facing the wild card winner and know no matter what happens they would have home field advantage up until the World Series.
The Dodgers – as the so-called #2 seed – would then get to play the Cardinals with the series in Los Angeles for four of the seven. Advantage LA.
It’s hard enough trying to face the greatest pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw in a best-of-five series. It’s another thing trying to do it on the road in a hostile environment. You really are setting yourself up for a tough task by not claiming a better record in the regular season.
So here we are in early September and virtually all eyes on the Cardinals and Brewers to see who’s going to scratch it out in the end to be the NL Central division champion. But don’t forget to keep an eye on the Dodgers and Nationals too (the likely winners of the NL West and NL East, respectively).
The Cards success in October hinges on both of those races.