2019 MLB Power Rankings: Postseason Edition

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after throwing a no hitter at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after throwing a no hitter at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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MLB Power Rankings: Postseason Edition

8. St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals are back in the postseason for the first time since 2015. However, their path was not easy, mostly due to the mediocracy of the NL Central for a majority of the season. At the All-Star break, the Cardinals sat in third place behind the Cubs and Brewers, with a 44-44 record.

To emphasize just how bad the NL Central was at that point, the last-place Reds were 41-46 but only sat four and 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs.

Thus, it was the NL Central was anyone’s race going into the second half. The Cardinals took full advantage of this opportunity, going 46-23 since the break. They are 21-9 in their last 30 games and are riding a 6 game winning streak after sweeping the rival Cubs to eliminate them from NL Central contention. Now, they look to lock up the NL Central early this week.

There were high hopes for the 11-time Champs coming into 2019. Infielder Matt Carpenter was coming off one of the best second-half performances of all-time in 2018, bright young stars like Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader were starting to emerge, and they acquired perennial All-Star and MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt.

After slow starts for many of their big-name players, the Cardinals have turned it around in the second half. No one is more emblematic of this turnaround than 24-year-old infielder Tommy Edman. Edman is having a breakout rookie season. In 87 games, Edman has compiled a .298/.340/.500 slash line with 11 home runs, 33 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. He looks to make an impact at the top of the lineup in October.

Their starting rotation looks formidable, with the emergence of Jack Flaherty as their ace. The 23-year-old has lived up to his high expectations this year, posting a 2.96 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 3.63 FIP in 31 starts this season. Veteran Adam Wainwright has enjoyed a resurgence in 2019 at the age of 38. His postseason experience will most likely pencil him into the number two slot in October. Miles Mikolas has struggled to replicate his All-Star year in 2018, where he finished 6th in Cy Young voting, However, he has done enough to prove himself worthy of earning postseason starts. Dakoda Hudson will most likely serve as the number four starter in their playoff rotation.

The most pleasant surprise for the Cardinals has been their bullpen strength. They lead the league in saves with 52, with Carlos Martinez earning the closer role down the stretch. They rank third in bullpen ERA at 3.79. Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks, John Gant, and Giovanny Gallegos have all had strong seasons, and look to continue their dominance in October.

However, the fact that St. Louis plays in the NL Central resulted in them ranking at the bottom of the playoff list. They also lack some of the depth that other teams ahead of them thrive on. They should not be taken lightly by any team, however, as the Cardinals have had some magical Octobers in their organization’s rich past.