MILWAUKEE – It’s the final full week of the MLB regular season, and the St. Louis Cardinals could clinch a spot in the postseason any day.
Given the current situation, the Cardinals can clinch with either one win against the Milwaukee Brewers in a two-game road series or they will have to wait until the final handful of games against the Pittsburgh Pirates from Friday to next Wednesday.
Coming into Tuesday, the magic number for a postseason spot stands at three. The closest path for the Cardinals to postseason runs through the NL Central. Since the Cardinals took over the NL Central lead in August, any individual St. Louis wins and Milwaukee losses have dropped that number one more closer to a clinching scenario.
So if St. Louis win one of the next two games in Milwaukee, that would bring the magic number down to one on technicality because of a Cardinal win at the expense of a Brewers loss. That said, MLB has confirmed the Cardinals can clinch a postseason spot if the magic number drops to one in this specific series. The reason being, it’s a little complicated.
When the expanded MLB postseason format was announced in July, the league announced a provision for the 2022 season, likely due to timing constraints from when a lockout delayed the start of the current campaign.
In previous seasons, a traditional Game 163 would determine the division champion, in the case the Cardinals and Brewers finished with the same record on the final day of the regular season. MLB had eliminated Game 163, at least for the 2022 season, so that “tiebreaker games no longer resolve ties in the standings at the conclusion of the regular season,” per MLB.com.
“Instead, ties will be broken by math, with specific outcomes from the regular season determining final standing or seeding.”
The first criteria to solve such outcomes would be head-to-head record. The Cardinals enter the series with a 9-8 regular season record against the Brewers. With 19 possible games against the division foe, the Cardinals could win the season series with 10 head-to-head wins this year. Only one victory separates them from that hold.
Therefore, one win in two games would get the officially magic number down to 1, but would mean the Cardinals clinch because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. A Cardinals win would give them 90 wins this season, a number the Brewers could only mathematically match by winning out and the Cardinals losing out. Still, the Cardinals would hold the tiebreaker with one more head-to-head win.
In the case the Brewers win both games, they would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage and the magic number would remain at three. That would ultimately mean the Cardinals couldn’t clinch until Friday at earliest, as back-to-back series begin against the Pittsburgh Pirates to close the year.
It’s a big next two games for the Cardinals. If they can clinch in Milwaukee, it will give St. Louis about a week to rest its regular starters as needed and restructure the rotation order for a better fit in postseason.
Buckle up, it will either be a quick or possibly lengthy path to clinch for the Cardinals.