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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Will the Cardinals’ momentum carry into the post-season?

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.

Generally, the Cardinals delivered, going 19-8 from September 1 through the conclusion of the regular season. Those who believe in momentum can feel both good and worried, however.

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

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12 Responses to “Will the Cardinals’ momentum carry into the post-season?”

  1. blingboy says:

    I have been a big believer in momentum ever since taking a couple actuarial science classes in college back in the day. It is essentially a weighted average type principle. When looking at a stream of data, the most recent data point is most predictive of the data point that will occur next. The predictive value of data has to be discouted ever more as it becomes more remote in time. Almost anything that calls for making decisions based upon a prediction of the liklihood of future events is based on this principle.

    Of course, that did not help Cleveland last night. On the other hand, one could say the writing was on the wall for Cincinnati. All in all, I would much rather go into post riding a hot streak, or at least not riding a cold one.

  2. Bw52 says:

    Why the hell is Mujica on the playoff roster.He pitched about as bad as a closer could for several weeks and then he stunk in mop up roles.Using Mujica can be a momentum-killer.Why is he on the roster? Dumb move.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Probably because he saved 37 games this season. I am not the least bit surprised.

      • blingboy says:

        It is one of those things that baseball people everywhere will notice, and recognize as true to form for this organization.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Again, I agree with you. Though they did drop Westbrook, they let him take a Game 162 curtain call despite all the heartattacks from “fans” worried about losing home field advantage.

          BTW, did you notice the Braves spanked Dan Uggla by leaving him off their roster?

          • JumboShrimp says:

            The Braves signed Uggla to a $62MM, five year deal in 2011. Uggla is taking home $13MM this year. Uggla will collect $13MM more during 2014. And another $13MM during 2015. For this kind of crazy money, who would not happily consent to a thrashing?

            In 2009, we kept Troy Glaus on the playoff roster, though he could no longer defend 3B. Troy served as an ineffective pinch-hitter during our 3 and out exit. He was going into free agency, so we must have wanted to support his reputation. He latched on the next year as a first baseman for the Braves, to make a bit more money.

            Mujica too is headed into free agency. After all he has done for us during 2012 and 2013, it is good to support his free agency by keeping him on our playoff roster. This is ethical and honorable.

  3. Bw52 says:

    Mujica in September
    10 games
    7.1 IP
    18 hits
    9 runs
    9 earned runs
    2 BB
    3 K
    3HOMERUNS
    6 doubles
    2 Saves
    2 blown saves
    1 hold
    11.05 E.R.A.

    the only way he should see the field is buy a ticket.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Mujica is going into free agency and it would look bad if he could not even make the playoff roster. We do not want to hurt his earning potential, by sidelining him. We will say he earned the roster slot for all he did this year. This is true and a good cover story.

      For Cards fans who want to win versus the Pirates, we want Freeman or Lyons, its a no brainer. The Cards are going to try to sneak by the Pirates without calling on Mujica to pitch, unless there is a blowout game.

  4. CariocaCardinal says:

    If you are not going to pitch Mijuca with a 9-1 lead in the 9th he probably shouldn’t be on the roster.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Carioca, quite agreed. But Mo and Mike have a cover story and Mujica is on the roster, whether we fans like it or not.

    • blingboy says:

      Would have hated for Rosenthal to make his post-season debut in the 9th of a one run game at PNC after not having pitched for over a week.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Right, bb. They obviously felt it was a higher priority for Rosenthal to get some work. I may be in the minority here, but I would rather not see the last man in the pen ever pitch unless there is a blowout in the other direction.

        If Mujica being on the roster is the Cardinals’ worst problem, they are in pretty good shape.

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