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The 09 schedule

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Much has been made of the Cards’ initial 7 game homestand to begin the season. Opening w/ 4 against the Pirates and 3 against the ‘stros at home isn’t a bad way to begin the year. April gets more difficult from there, however, with the next 5 series coming against teams that figure to be pretty good – the D-backs, the Mets, the Braves, and the Cubs twice. It almost necessitates a strong opening homestand in order hope to have a good record ending April after playing 10 of the 16 games in those 5 series on the road. The team plays 13 of its 24 April games in Busch.

May and August figure to be our least difficult months, with April and July being our most difficult. July will be tough indeed, with 15 of our 25 games on the road and series against the Reds, Brewers, Cubs, D-backs, Phillies, and Dodgers. When we’re playing all 4 of last year’s NL playoff teams in the same month, it’s going to be trying. At least the All-Star break will give us a slight respite. Our interleague schedule seems a little more trying than usual – w/ series against the Indians, Tigers, Twins, along w/ our standard double-dose of the Royals. The other thing that stands out at first glance at the schedule is that we make 2 trips to Shea – and play 6 games total on the road against the Mets. It’s unusual, and would’ve been nicer to play 6 road games against the Nationals but what can you do?...

The table below is a synopsis of our schedule, with the home and road games broken up by month, and each opponent’s 2008 record, 2009 BP projection, and 2009 Chone projection. The totals at the end of each month are the cumulative winning percentages of our opponents for the month.

H R 08 W % BP W % Chone W %
April 13 11 .514 .508 .502
May 13 15 .483 .485 .486
June 16 13 .489 .489 .498
July 10 15 .527 .513 .499
August 14 12 .452 .464 .481
Sept/Oct 15 15 .510 .485 .492

Where you see major discrepancies, it likely has to do w/ the fact that Chone has the Brewers being 9 games worse this year than last, and that there is a major discrepancy between the Chone and BP projections for the D-backs. BP has them winning 87 games and Chone has them winning 79. There’s a similar discrepancy between the Dodgers’ projections (91 and 82) and the Padres’ projections (73 and 80). There’s a 6 game discrepancy between the 2 systems’ projections for the Cubs but, regardless of whether they win 94 games, 88 games, or somewhere in between, they’re going to be pretty good.

Those discrepancies help to explain the difference in the winning percentages in July – series against the Brewers, Dodgers and D-backs. I happen to think they’ll all be pretty good, though the Brewers should take a step backward. Even the Giants won’t be pushovers considering their stout starting pitching. The only break we get during the month (hopefully) is the 4 games we get against the Astros.

I’d have to think that winning 13 or 14 games in April would be a good start and would give us a nice push to increase that winning % in what appears to be a relatively easy May. 13-11 would only be 2 over .500, but w/ the Nats, Pirates, and Royals all on the agenda -- plus the Giants and a weakened Brewers team -- in May, we could win another 16 or 17 in May. June is when we play most of our interleague games and I’d think that the series against the Indians, Tigers, and Twins will all be pretty tough. The relatively low winning % in June understates the month’s difficulty b/c of the fact that we have those 9 games against the AL teams.

In August we need to load up again in preparation for the home stretch in September and early October. Again we get 2 series against the Astros and we get 2 more against the Padres, plus series against the Pirates and Nationals. Aside from the 5 we play against the Mets and Dodgers, the toughest series we play during the month is a 3 game series at home against the Reds.

In September and October, we’re going to have to earn our playoff spot. We’ve got 3 against the Braves, Cubs, and Reds but our playoff fortunes will probably rest on the 9 games we play against the Brewers. The wild card favorites right now are probably in the East but we could be right there, assuming we finish ahead of the Brewers. If we can’t beat them, it’s not much going to matter what happens in the East.