A Comparison of the Remaining Schedules for the St. Louis Cardinals & Milwaukee Brewers

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 10: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers steals second base against Rafael Furcal #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 10, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It feels like the Brewers may not lose again this season. As the Brew Crew have surged, the Cardinals have been left in their dust, struggling to keep up with Milwaukee's torrid pace and gradually falling further behind the divisional frontrunner. In a not unrelated development, scoreboard-watching season has begun early for Cardinal fans this 2011 season, for the Brewers must lose for the Cardinals to make up ground. In recent weeks, the Brewers have stubbornly refused to do so.

Milwaukee won yet another one-run game yesterday, upping their record is such close contests to 26-15 by topping the free-falling Pirates in extra innings. The Cardinals managed to keep pace by besting the Rockies at Busch in the rubber match of the clubs' three-game series. After Sunday's contests, both the second-place Cardinals and first-place Brewers have played 121 baseball games this season. The clubs are essentially at the three-quarter mark of the season. At 70-51, the Brewers lead the 65-56 Cardinals in the National League Central by 5.0 games. Given this state of affairs, today I thought we could take a look at the remaining schedules for the two clubs to see which has the advantage on paper over the season's final quarter.

The following is a table with the total games against, record, winning percentage, and run differential for each of the Cardinals' remaining foes along with the overall totals in those categories.

OPPONENT

GAMES VS.

RECORD

WIN PCT.

RUN DIFF.

Brewers

6

70-51

.579

+36

Pirates

10

56-63

.471

-39

Cubs

6

53-68

.438

-97

Reds

3

59-62

.488

+43

Astros

3

38-83

.314

-158

Dodgers

3

55-64

.462

-27

Phillies

4

78-41

.655

+137

Braves

3

70-51

.579

+56

Mets

3

58-62

.483

+2

TOTAL

41

537-545

.496

-47

 

The same table for the Brewers' remaining schedule.

 

OPPONENT

GAMES VS.

RECORD

WIN PCT.

RUN DIFF.

Cardinals

6

65-56

.537

+53

Pirates

7

56-63

.471

-39

Cubs

6

53-68

.438

-97

Reds

3

59-62

.488

+43

Astros

3

38-83

.314

-158

Dodgers

4

55-64

.462

-27

Phillies

4

78-41

.655

+137

Rockies

2

56-66

.459

-13

Mets

3

58-62

.483

+2

Marlins

3

56-64

.467

-51

TOTAL

40

574-629

.477

-150

 

The two clubs share many common opponents, which is not unsurprising with the era of the unbalanced schedule creating a greater proportion of intradivisional match-ups. However, the they will also face quite a few common opponents from outside the NL Central as well. The Cards have 19 games remaining against the Pirates, Cubs, and Astros while the Brewers have 16 against the trio that make up the Central's bottom half in the standings. Each plays the Dodgers and the Mets as well as the juggernaut that is the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers will play the Marlins while the Redbirds have three games against Wild Card frontrunner Atlanta. Playing the Braves with their +56 run differential instead of the Marlins with their -51 run differential also accounts for the 103-run gap in opponents' run differential. This difference further accounts for the fact that the Cardinals have 13 games remaining against clubs with a winning percentage of .500 or more while the Brewers have only 10 such games. 

With such similar remaining schedules, the division crown will be won by the club that plays the best baseball down the stretch. This bodes ill for the La Russa-helmed Cardinals. If the Brewers continue playing the inspired baseball of the last couple weeks and the Cardinals continue along their current trajectory, St. Louis will likely finish as runner-up in the division for the second consecutive season after a second consecutive late-summer swoon. That being said, with six head-to-head games remaining, the Cardinals still have a fighting chance. Hopefully the Cards can take advantage of it.

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