The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals first met on a diamond in 1892. Since that time, one of baseball’s biggest rivalries has seen the two teams play over 2,300 times. But never have the two teams matched up in a postseason series. All of that history may very well change in a few months time.
Seemingly all season long, the Cardinals have had the best record in baseball. With their hot August, the Cubs now have the fourth best record in the league. In fact, with the Pittsburgh Pirates also included, the NL Central features three of the top four records in baseball. With this success, it just may set up an all NL Central NLDS in the playoffs with the winner having the inside track to the World Series.
Comparing the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs to the other National League playoff contenders it is easy to see why the trio is pacing the National League. St. Louis is currently 2-1 versus the Washington Nationals and 4-3 against the New York Mets. While the Pirates are 3-4 against Washington, they are 3-0 against the Mets. The Cubs are 4-3 versus the Nationals and 7-0 against New York. Overall, all three teams have winning records against the NL East.
When the Central trio stacks up against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, even the West’s best are no match. The Cardinals are 5-2 against the Dodgers and have yet to take on the defending champions. Pittsburgh is currently 3-0 against both the Dodgers and Giants on the season, while Chicago is 2-2 against Los Angeles and 4-0 versus San Francisco. Overall, the trio again has winning records against the entire NL West.
Even in Interleague play, the trio is finding success in the standings. While the Cubs are currently 6-7 with several games left to play, the Cardinals are 11-9 and the Pirates are 13-7 against the American League.
Where the Cardinals do have a slight advantage is head-to-head against the Cubs and Pirates. At the moment, St. Louis is 7-5 against the Pirates, and 9-4 against the Cubs. For that reason, even with all of the injuries, the Cardinals have found ways to keep themselves perched in first place. The Cubs also have a slight head-to-head advantage over Pittsburgh 7-5, and only the Pirates are under .500 against the NL Central division.
Looking for more proof that these three teams have been the class of the National League? The Major League leaders in one-run victories are the Cardinals and Cubs both with 26, and the Pirates with 24. For good measure, the Cubs also lead the league with 11 walkoff wins.
Unless something unexpected happens over the final two months of the regular season, these three teams appear to all be heading for the playoffs and on a collision course to end each others season. If that is the case, the new format will have two of them face-off against each other in the one-game Wild Card round. The winner will then meet the division champion in the Divisional Series. With the numbers on their side, Chicago may have a slight edge over Pittsburgh to advance to the NLDS round against the awaiting Cardinals. Based on the season track record, whomever the Central survivor is will have a favorable matchup in the NLCS and be favorites to reach the World Series. Suddenly, the NL Central has become the beasts of baseball.
This October may very well line up an historical series between the Cubs and Cardinals, and baseball would surely be the big winner if these two rivals did end up meeting in the postseason. It would pit two passionate fan bases against each other in an electric fall atmosphere in both cities. A playoff series would only add to this rivalry much like the classic Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees matchups have done for that series. While it is only August, the numbers are alligning for a Cubs and Cardinals matchup for the ages.