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D-backs Preview #159: 9/30 @ Giants

The Cardinals won 17 in a row. But do long winning streaks help in October?

St Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Ketel Marte - 2B Austin Slater - CF
Henry Ramos - RF Darin Ruf - LF
Daulton Varsho - CF Buster Posey - C
Carson Kelly - C Evan Longoria - 3B
Christian Walker - 1B Kris Bryant - RF
Pavin Smith - LF Brandon Crawford - SS
Ildemaro Vargas - 3B Wilmer Flores - 1B
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Donovan Solano - 2B
M. Bumgarner - LHP Scott Kazmir - LHP

Can’t argue that the Cardinals’ 17-game winning streak was anything but impressive. It’s the longest by a National League team in 83 years, since the Pirates matched it, in overlapping the 1937-38 seasons. But it’s over now (though they already won again today). Does history show us that kind of momentum carries into the post-season? Let’s take a look. In the wild-card era, there have been 55 teams in the majors to put together winning streaks of longer than 10 games. But we’re focusing on late season surges, so let’s limit this to streaks where at least 10 of those games were in September. For example, we won’t count Arizona’s 13-game streak in 2017, as most of those games were in August.

That gets us down to 11 “late streaks”. Here are the details on them, along with how the team in question performed in the post-season - if they even reached it.

  • CLE 2017 (08-24/09-14) - 22 - lost in ALDS
  • STL 2021 (09-11/09-28) - 17 - to be decided
  • BAL 1999 (09-07/09-22) - 13 - did not qualify
  • DET 2011 (09-02/09-14) - 12 - lost in ALCS
  • HOU 1999 (09-03/09-14) - 12 - lost in NLDS
  • BOS 2016 (09-15/09-25) - 11 - lost in ALDS
  • CLE 2013 (09-19/09-29) - 10 - lost AL wild-card game
  • PHI 2010 (09-12/09-24) - 11 - lost in NLCS
  • COL 2007 (09-16/09-27) - 11 - lost in World Series
  • MIN 2003 (09-13/09-24) - 11 - lost in ALDS
  • PIT 1996 (09-12/09-22) - 11 - did not qualify

That’s not encouraging for the Cardinals. None of the teams with long, hot September streaks won it all. The only one to reach the World Series was Colorado, courtesy of “Rocktober”. Even the Indians, who ran the table by winning their final ten regular season games in 2013, were blanked 4-0 by the Rays in their first playoff contest, and were done. SI did a more structured analysis and concluded that COLDER teams “won more postseason series, more postseason games, more pennants and more World Series titles than the ones riding momentum. And it’s not even close.” A hot streak in September helps get you to the playoffs, sure. But then? Everybody starts 0-0. It’s how you play in October that matters.

Torey Lovullo notes

  • Madison Bumgarner returning to San Francisco: “I’ve asked him a little bit about it and naturally he’s down playing it. He’s meant so much to the world championships that were won here, I’m sure the fans are waiting to see him and recognize him and appreciate him for all those good times.”
  • Lack of stolen base attempts: The team attempted 133 in 2017, and it’s decreased every year all the way down to just 54 attempts in 2021. With many young fast players will that become a bigger part of the strategy going forward? Possibly. We feel very good about some of our young potential base stealers. I think there is some growth in understanding when to try. What’s important to us is our success rate. We try to keep it as close as possible to 80% as possible... A longer answer ensued, I suggest giving it a listen, but I got the sense they won’t really increase back to 2017 levels, but he’s aware of the need to perhaps run a bit more.
  • Weekend Starting Pitchers: Humberto Castellanos Friday, Zac Gallen Saturday, Sunday still TBA

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]