After Wednesday’s series finale in Atlanta, the Cardinals are running out of schedule. Trying to secure a playoff spot, their regular season is down to three series and nine games.
Good news: According to the FanGraphs playoff odds, the Cardinals had a 79.3 percent chance to make it to the postseason. Baseball Prospectus gives the Cards a playoff probability of 76.9 percent. After Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Braves, those percentages will drop some — but remain strong.
Good news: As play began Wednesday, the Cardinals led the Rockies by 1.5 games for the second National League wild card. And the Cardinals have a chance to catch the Brewers, who hold possession of the No. 1 wild card. Before Wednesday’s first pitch, Milwaukee was two games above St. Louis.
Bad news: Six of the Cardinals’ nine remaining games will be played at Busch Stadium.
Wait … what?
How is that bad news?
All teams want the home-field advantage. Every single time.
I know. And playing six of the final nine games at Busch isn’t bad news. Of course it’s preferable to playing six of the last nine on the road. But I was just trying to make a point.
Because this is also true: The 2018 Cardinals are better on the road than at home.
That isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact. And backed by many statistics.
Let’s have a look.
While denied in their opportunity to pull off a three-game sweep in Atlanta, the Cardinals still won the series by taking two of three games.
Except for the Cardinals’ updated record and run differential in road games, the following statistics do not include Wednesday’s matinee against the Braves.
Home Record: 40-35 … a .533 winning percentage.
Road Record: 44-34 … a .564 winning percentage.
Cards’ run differential at Busch: +6
Cards’ run differential on the road: +71.
Cards’ runs per game at home: 4.3
Cards’ runs per game on road: 5.1
Home batting average: .245, 20th in MLB
Road batting average: .254, 11th.
Home onbase percentage: .314, 21st in MLB
Road onbase percentage: .327, 7th
Home slugging percentage: .381, tied for 26th
Road slugging percentage: .441, 4th
OPS at home: .695, 24th
OPS on road: .768, 4th
Isolated Power, home: .136, 28th
Isolated Power, road: .187, 4th
Park-adjusted runs created, home: 91, nine percent below average, 25th
Park-adjusted runs created, road: 105, five percent above average, tied for 4th
Home runs per game at Busch: 1.02
Home runs per game on road: 1.57
Home-run ratio at Busch: Cardinals hit a homer every 33 at-bats
Home-run ratio on road: Cardinals hit one every 22.2 at-bats.
Runs allowed per game at Busch: 4.22
Runs allowed per game on road: 4.14
ERA at home: 3.72, 13th best in MLB
ERA on the road: 3.84, 10th best in MLB
Starting pitching ERA at home: 3.39, 6th best in MLB
Starting pitching ERA on road: 3.46, 3rd best in MLB
Bullpen ERA at home: 4.22, 22nd in MLB
Bullpen ERA on road: 4.46, 19th in MLB
If the Cardinals make the playoffs and have to play a wild card game on the road, no problem. If the advance to the NLDS, and don’t have the home-field advantage, don’t worry. The numbers show that the Cardinals pitch just fine on the road. And offensively the Cardinals are a dramatically different team — more robust, relentless, brash and confident — when hitting on the road.
But to get to the wild card game — or any kind of playoff game — Cardinals’ hitters can’t afford to have another slowdown — or a shutdown — during the final home stand of the season.
Three vs. the Giants.
Three vs. the Brewers.
And for their sake, the Cardinals’ better put up a bunch of runs in the final six regular-season home games. Or the final weekend of the regular season — three games at Wrigley Field — may present desperate, emergency circumstances for the Cardinals.
Thanks for reading …