For the first time since 2015, the Cardinals are going back to the postseason, and they'll be doing so as the National League Central champions.
A win against the Cubs on Sept. 21 at Wrigley Field saw the Cardinals clinch a spot in the playoffs, but it took more than a week for St. Louis to lock up the division crown. A Game 162 rout over those same Cubs at Busch Stadium on Sunday did the trick for the Cards, who had lost four in a row.
Instead of hosting the Brewers in a Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday to decide the division winner, the Cardinals will begin their postseason journey at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Thursday when the NL Division Series gets underway.
What does the NLDS schedule look like?
The Braves are scheduled to host the Cardinals in Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-five NLDS presented by Utz on Thursday, Oct. 3, and Friday, Oct. 4. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 6, in St. Louis, with Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) on Monday, Oct. 7, in St. Louis, and Wednesday, Oct. 9, in Atlanta.
How did the Cardinals fare against the Braves in 2019?
The Cardinals went 2-4 against the Braves, but all of those games were in May, a month that saw St. Louis go 9-18 overall.
What does the postseason rotation look like?
The Cardinals were hoping Jack Flaherty would start their first postseason game, but with the division still up for grabs, the right-hander started Sunday's season finale.
Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright will round out the rest of the postseason rotation. Hudson, who held the Cubs scoreless in five innings Friday despite five walks in his final start of the regular season, will need to find efficiency. He leads the Majors in walks (86), but his sinker-slider combination has produced the best ground-ball percentage (57 percent) in the Majors this year.
Wainwright has struggled in his past two starts, including against the Cubs on Saturday, when he allowed six runs and four homers in 4 1/3 innings. But he has been an integral part of the Cardinals’ playoff push, and the 38-year-old veteran brings valuable postseason experience to the team.
Are there any injuries of note?
Kolten Wong strained his left hamstring when he ran out a ground ball on Sept. 19 at Wrigley Field and hasn't played since. It was diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain, which means he’s dealing with a partial muscle tear. Wong considered returning for Sunday's season finale, but he was ultimately held out of the lineup. He's hoping to be 100 percent for the NLDS.
Starter Michael Wacha has a right shoulder strain and will not throw until the middle of next week. That likely makes him unavailable for an NLDS, although he said he is hopeful to pitch again this season. If he makes the postseason roster, he will likely be in the bullpen.