Chicago Cubs: Breaking down potential playoff opponents

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Aug 31, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher

Yadier Molina

(4) is congratulated by starting pitcher

John Lackey

(41) after scoring during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals

Mike Matheny‘s ball club has seen it all this season, namely injuries to key pieces, including both position players and pitchers. And, despite it all, this team just keeps on plugging away.

St. Louis will enter play on Tuesday with a six-game edge over Pittsburgh and an eight-game lead over Chicago in the division. The starting rotation has looked shockingly hittable of-late, which could be a concern moving forward – but, for now, there’s no reason to question the Cardinals’ legitimacy.

Stephen Piscotty has been one of the game’s best rookies since he was called up, batting .333/.365/.526 in 42 games with the Redbirds and now that Randal Grichuk is back in the swing of things, those two represent a very intimidating young punch.

Combine them with a rotation that features Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Jaime Garcia and you immediately understand how they’ve managed to perform so well this season.

If you get things to the ninth, Trevor Rosenthal is ready to shut the door. The young right-hander is enjoying one of the best seasons ever for a St. Louis reliever and may very well break 50 saves for the first time in his career.

Make no mistake. The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is alive and well – perhaps more so than at any point since the late 1990s. If Chicago wants October glory, they’ll have to push past a talented Cardinals club.

Next: Los Angeles Dodgers