Albert Pujols doesn’t want any rest. Manager Tony LaRussa will keep it that way. Even though the division is clinched, the Cardinals are three games behind Los Angeles for the best record in the National League and need Pujols in the lineup, plus he wants to stay sharp and work on his swing before the playoffs.
Pujols said that after a day off he feels like he loses something and says he doesn’t quite feel right at the plate. In his last 10 games, Pujols is 11 of 38 for a .289 average with just six RBIs. Three of those came on Sunday.
Rest will not be an issue for Pujols. He is relatively healthy and the Cardinals have had a favorable schedule with four days off over a span of 19 days in September. The Cardinals will now play six straight days with most likely one day off before the playoffs open on Tuesday, October 6th.
Not sitting is nothing new to Pujols. When the Cardinals lost the World Series to Boston in 2004, Pujols played in seven of the teams final eight games when they ran away with the Central Division with their lead well in the double digits.
I wouldn’t fret. I’d let Pujols play. I’d continue to keep the starters sharp. The Dodgers will most likely clinch the best record in the NL, as they are up three games in the loss column on St. Louis and Philly with five games to play while the Cards and Phillies play six. However, the key for the Cardinals down the stretch is to finish ahead of Philadelphia.
While the Cardinals played the Dodgers well, I’d rather have St. Louis play Colorado in the first round, (assuming Colorado holds off Atlanta who is just two games behind in the Wild Card) and host a series instead of traveling to LA. The playoff picture is still up for grabs, but here are the likely possible scenarios.
If LA clinches best record and Colorado wins wild card, St. Louis will host Colorado if Cardinals finish ahead of Philadelphia.
If LA clinches best record and Colorado wins wild card, St. Louis would travel to LA if Cardinals finish behind Philadelphia.
If LA clinches best record and Atlanta wins wild card, St. Louis would open with Philadelphia with home field advantage going to the team with the better record.
The Cardinals play at Cincinnati for three, than come home to play Milwaukee for three. Philadelphia plays Houston and Florida. The schedule is a toss-up with both teams holding an advantage over weaker opponents, Milwaukee always plays the Cardinals tough, and Florida will not be a push over. I won’t even begin to think of the scenarios should LA stumble and not finish with the best record. They play San Diego twice, then finish with a tough series against Colorado who will be fighting for their playoff lives.