How Many Games Do the Cardinals Need to Clinch Wild Card?

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By Monica Bates

The St. Louis Cardinals are in the hunt for a wild card spot in the National League this season. With only a handful of games remaining, fans are wondering just how many wins will it take for the Cardinals to clinch a playoff berth.

The Current Situation
As of September 22nd, the Cardinals currently hold the second wild card spot with a record of 81-69. They are two games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds and three games ahead of the San Diego Padres.

The Magic Number
In baseball, the “magic number” refers to the combination of wins by the leading team and losses by their closest competitor that will result in the leading team clinching a playoff spot. For example, if Team A has a magic number of 3 over Team B, it means that any combination of 3 wins by Team A or 3 losses by Team B will result in Team A clinching a playoff spot.

The Calculation
To determine the Cardinals’ magic number, we need to look at their closest competitor for the second wild card spot. As mentioned earlier, that’s currently held by the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals have six games remaining against the Milwaukee Brewers and three games remaining against both the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres.

Best Case Scenario

In a best-case scenario, let’s assume that the Cardinals win all six games against Milwaukee, split their series against Chicago (win one game and lose two), and sweep San Diego (win all three games). In this scenario, they would finish with an overall record of 91-71.

To calculate their magic number over Cincinnati, we need to look at how many games Cincinnati has remaining as well as how many they would need to win to tie St. Louis’ projected record. As it stands now, Cincinnati has seven games remaining against Pittsburgh and three against Washington. They would need to win all 10 games to tie the Cardinals’ projected record.

Since the Cardinals hold the tiebreaker over the Reds (they won the season series), their magic number would be calculated as follows:

10 (games remaining for Cincinnati) + 1 (Cardinals’ current lead) – 10 (number of wins Cincinnati needs to tie projected Cardinals record) = 1

This means that any combination of one Cardinals win or one Reds loss will result in the Cardinals clinching a playoff spot.

Worst Case Scenario

Of course, not every scenario is going to be perfect. Let’s take a look at a worst-case scenario for the Cardinals.

In this scenario, let’s assume they lose all six games against Milwaukee, split their series against Chicago again, and only win one game against San Diego. This would give them an overall record of 85-77.

To calculate their magic number over Cincinnati in this scenario, we need to look at how many games Cincinnati has remaining and how many they would need to win to pass St. They would need to win six out of those 10 games to pass St.

Using the same formula as before:

10 (games remaining for Cincinnati) + 1 (Cardinals’ current lead) – 6 (number of wins Cincinnati needs to pass projected Cardinals record) = 5

This means that any combination of five Cardinals wins or five Reds losses will result in the Cardinals clinching a playoff spot.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a lot of different scenarios that could play out over these final few games of the regular season. However, if you’re a Cardinals fan looking for some peace of mind, just know that any combination of one Cardinals win or one Reds loss will result in the Cardinals clinching a playoff spot. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these final few games of what has been an exciting and unpredictable season!