Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the final weekend of regular season Major League Baseball. This weekend had the potential to be a barn-burner of a series between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. However, the Cubs decided not to show up in September and completely blew their playoff chances. Now, at 90-69, the Cardinals hold a one-game lead over the stampeding Milwaukee Brewers for the National League Central lead.
So while the Cardinals have their playoff ticket punched already, this series is huge for them. If they can come out of this weekend with that division lead intact, they automatically go to the National League Division Series. On the other hand, if they lay an egg and lose that one-game advantage, they will head to the Wild Card game. In that instance, they would be in an elimination game to even get to the NLDS.
Cards Ace Gets The Ball
For the Cardinals, Dakota Hudson will get the ball for his 32nd start of the season. Hudson has turned into one of the Cardinals’ aces this season during a breakout campaign. He is 16-7 with a 3.45 earned run average and has been the main driving force behind this team and their playoff push.
In August, when the Cards started to really come on strong, Hudson went 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA in six starts. However, in his first start against the Cubs in his last outing, Hudson crumbled. In three innings, he gave up three hits and four walks while giving up three runs. What is going in Hudson’s favor is how good he is pitching at home. In the confines of Busch Stadium, Hudson has a 2.89 ERA.
Petty Joe Maddon
Starting for the Chicago Cubs on Friday is … well, we don’t know. Joe Maddon announced that multiple players will be shut down for the season and not play this weekend. While the only thing the Cubs can do this weekend is play spoiler, it looks like they will be doing that to the Brewers and not the Cardinals.
Maddon knows how this is going to look to Brewer fans, and he does not care. He brought it up in a presser and said “Now, of course, (the Brewers are) going to b—-. Of course they are. I get it. Quite frankly, there are certain things I don’t give a s— about.”
Among the players already ruled out for the Cubs are the following: Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez. There’s also speculation that Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist could also be watching instead of playing this weekend.
Cardinals Playoff Scenarios
While the Cubs are ruled out, the Cards head into this weekend with a handful of different potential outcomes. First off, they could finish first in the division and win the National League Central. In that case, they would take on the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
They could end up in a tie with the Brewers atop the division, which would force a one-game playoff for the division title, which is how the Brewers won the NL Central a year ago, beating the Cubs in the one-game playoff.
If they falter this weekend and lose the division, they would then take on the Washington Nationals in a do-or-die Wild Card game. Both the Cards and Nats head into this weekend with 90 wins, and whichever finishes with a better record would host the Wild Card Game.
If they are still tied after this weekend, the Cardinals would host the game as they beat the Nationals in the regular-season series 5-2. The winner of that game would then go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
This game, and this series in general, will probably be a Chicago massacre. The Cubs are going to field a Triple-A team, and the Cardinals are playing for a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Cardinals sweep. That means Friday is going to be a Cardinals win.