The Cardinals lost 8-1 to the Cincinnati Reds last night. Or maybe it was 9-1, not sure. It doesn't feel like it really matters right now, does it? Whatever the case, it was another ugly loss at Busch Stadium, a place where the Cardinals have surrendered any semblance of a home field advantage the last few seasons.
There is no magic number for making the postseason, something that has been especially true since they added the second wild card in 2012. But the two teams who currently occupy the wild card spots in the National League - the Brewers, who are down a few percentage points to the Cubs, and the Braves - are on pace for 94 wins and and 90 wins, respectively. Of course, it's not a sure thing those numbers will hold, but for the sake of argument, let's say that 90-win mark is the threshold for extra baseball in the NL in 2018. That's a bad sign for the Cardinals.
From Craig Edwards, the former Viva El Birdos site manager, and current writer at FanGraphs:
He's right. Not only are the Cardinals chasing that 90-win mark, but so are several other teams who are also on the outside looking in and are currently in a better position.
And to find the last time the Cardinals played a 90-win pace over the course of 70 games, you have to go back to the final stretch of their 2015 season when they went 43-27 from July 18, 2015, to October 2, 2015, the last time the Cardinals made the playoffs. The 86-win 2016 team never went better than 39-31 over a 70-game stretch, which is pretty remarkable in its own right. For better or worse, that team was very good at being slightly better than average over the course of the entire season. (Their worst 70-game stretch that year was 35-35.) Last season, the Cardinals managed to win 42 of 70 games from the end of June until mid-September but they went 7-11 to close out the season and finish with their lowest win total in ten years.
Nothing about this current squad instills confidence that they can play at a 90-win pace for almost 45 percent of their games, although stranger things have happened. But don't count on it. Take away those early banked wins against the Reds, and this is an under .500 club. (And evidence points to this no longer being that Reds team.) Prepare for another trade deadline and offseason in which current management will have a lot of questions to answer in order to satisfy a fan base that's growing frustrated by the day.