During the final three weeks of the 2013 regular season, the St. Louis Cardinals had what looked like on paper a favorable schedule, mostly consisting of losing opponents. Yet the games still needed to be played and won.
On the positive side, the Cardinals carry a six-game winning streak into this post-season, including home sweeps over Washington and Chicago. Of their last 10 playoff years, this 2013 streak doubles their longest prior winning streak heading into the playoffs, three games in 2005.
Further, the club is 8-2 over their last 10, tied with the 2002 club for the best final 10-game finish during this time. The aforementioned 19-8 record since September 1 is the best since the 2000-02 clubs rolled through their final month of regular-season play.
On the other hand, during this time, the Cardinals have never enjoyed three days of rest heading into the post-season. Will the extra rest help a tired team recharge or will they lose their edge with all the downtime?
In past years, one day between the end of the regular season and the first post-season game has been the norm. The two examples of two-day rest had very different circumstances surrounding them.
The 2009 club limped into the playoffs, having lost four in a row and eight of 10. Two days of rest did not fix what ailed that team as they exited in the Division Series.
The Cardinals’ next post-season appearance was in 2011. Two days rest following a strong close to the regular season did not seem to hurt the eventual World Champions.
I honestly don’t know how much any of this matters, as there are many factors that play into winning and losing. All one has to do is look at 2006 to realize that momentum can be gained at any time, even coming off a very bad stretch of baseball immediately prior.
This subject will probably not come up again this fall – as long as the Cardinals keep winning.
|Year||Final streak||Final 10||Final month||Off before G1||Playoff outcome|
|2013||Won 6||8-2||19-8||3 days|
|2012||Won 1||7-3||17-13||1 day||Lost NLCS|
|2011||Won 2||7-3||18-8||2 days||Won World Series|
|2009||Lost 4||2-8||14-16||2 days||Lost NLDS|
|2006||Lost 1||3-7||12-17||1 day||Won World Series|
|2005||Won 3||5-5||15-13||1 day||Lost NLCS|
|2004||Won 1||5-5||18-13||1 day||Lost World Series|
|2002||Won 2||8-2||19-6||1 day||Lost NLCS|
|2001||Lost 1||7-3||20-8||1 day||Lost NLDS|
|2000||Won 1||5-5||20-9||1 day||Lost NLCS|