The other teams in the National League Central might as well pack it in for the year, because the St. Louis Cardinals have already won the division.
It’s May 3 on the calendar, and the Cardinals are only 25 games into the schedule. But I’d like to submit this question: In the National League Central, who can take this team down?
Seriously, unless the Chicago Cubs start putting together some long winning streaks, this race could turn into Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont. A horse named “Sham” tried to get out and run with Secretariat but couldn’t hang on. Secretariat won by 31 lengths. The Cubs, Brewers, Reds, Pirates and Astros might want to go to youtube.com and watch what happened to poor Sham.
After a 6-1 home stand, the Cardinals are 17-8 and have a 4 1/2-game lead in the mediocre Central. That is, by far, the biggest lead by a first-place team in the majors. And what will change? Unless the Cardinals are struck by catastrophic injuries, I don’t see how the five Shams keep pace. STLtoday.com.
Without a doubt, the Cardinals – even setting aside their blazing start – are the favorite in the Central on paper. Their rotation is dominant, their bullpen solid. They play good defense, and the lineup is dangerous.
That said, there was a time when that team was the Chicago Cubs. That time was early last year. There was no match for the Cubs on paper. And then humility – and injuries – showed its face.