It is the 4th of September, the Cardinals have a 3 game lead on the Cubs and there are 24 more games to play. So let’s look ahead at all the ways this might play out where the Cardinals win the division and order is restored to the universe.
If the Cardinals play exactly as they have all season
St. Louis currently has a .565 winning percentage on the season, encompassing their very good post All-Star break and their very bad May. So let’s say those are the two extremes and that .565 percentage is indicative of their true talent. If the Cardinals win at that clip for the remainder of the season, they would wind up with 92 wins.
In order for the Cubs to hit 92 wins, they would need to play at a .708 clip over the final month. That’s significantly better than the .650 winning percentage that the Yankees - the current best team in baseball - have put up over the entire season.
If the Cardinals play like they have in the 2nd half
Since the All-Star break, the Cardinals have won at the extremely metal rate of .666. If they keep winning at that rate, they will wind up with 94 wins. The Cubs would need to go an astronomical 19-5 to catch that.
If the Cardinals win all of their series except the one at Wrigley
I first saw this idea posted by @FWBluesFan on Twitter. If the Cardinals win all of their remaining series (meaning 2 out of 3, etc.), but SPLIT the 4-game series at Wrigley, that would mean going 16-9 the rest of the way and would get them all the way to 94 wins. Chicago would need to go 16-2 in their other games to match that.
That’s exciting, but I’ve seen the Cardinals play at Wrigley this season, so my paranoid expectation is for them to get swept in that series. But even in that scenario - where the Cards win their remaining series and get swept at Wrigley, St. Louis still hits that 92 win mark and the Cubs need to go 17-7 to tie.
If the Cardinals go .500
Now we’re getting a little more grim, but let’s say the Cardinals can only manage to win half of their remaining games. That still lands them at 90 wins for the season. 90 wins all but guarantees a Wild Card spot, but what about winning this division?
Even a sputtering .500 from the Cardinals from here on out would force the Cubs to go 15-9 in their remaining games. That’s a .625 winning percentage. So even if the Cardinals can only win half of their remaining games, it still forces the Cubs to play to the level of the Yankees, Dodgers or Astros over the final month.
So maybe that’s not all the ways the Cardinals can win the division, but hopefully it gives you an idea how the season could play out in a variety of scenarios.
We all lived through the 2011 Cardinals, so we understand that almost anything can happen in the final month of the season. The Cardinals or Cubs could go on an unbelievable run or collapse. Everything is still on the table.
But assuming both clubs play anywhere in the vicinity of how they’ve played already this season, you have to like the Cardinals chances. Even if El Birdos can only manage a .500 clip over the season’s final month, the pressure will be on the Cubs to play better than they’ve played the entire season to win the division.
Let’s win and win early, and vanquish the Cubs to the dustbin of history and/or the Wild Card Game.