Cardinals are a game behind Pittsburgh. They’ve dropped four out of their last five, and been out-scored 31-5 in that stretch, including two shutouts. Their ace, Adam Wainwright, has been raked by Cincinnati hitters twice in less than a week. Lance Lynn has lost his last four starts. On June 1, after sweeping a double-header from the Giants, the Cardinals were 37-18. From there to the All-Star break, they went 20-18. They came out of the blocks fast in late July only to collapse over a week in which they were swept by the Braves and dropped four out of five to the Pirates. They’ve gone 22-22 since the break. Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina are both hurt. This is not looking good.
The answers are simple: the starting pitching has to come back, and the offense has to be more consistent. To have any hope of winning the division, they probably have to go at least 17-8 between now and September 29th. They have three more games with Cincinnati and three more, at home, against Pittsburgh. The last 19 games are against Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Washington, and the Cubs. The Nationals are a game over .500; the rest have losing records (although the Cubs have been a lot of trouble recently). The Pirates get to rest up before this weekend’s series; then they play Texas, the Cubs (twice), San Diego, and Cincinnati (twice). The Reds get the Dodgers this weekend, then the Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Pirates, Mets, and Pirates again. So the schedule offers some hope, but the Cardinals have to rise to the occasion. At the least, they have to split this week with the Reds and take two out of three from the Pirates. If they stumble this week, it’s going to be very hard.