With the National League Central tile in hand after a 7-0 win over the Cubs on Friday, the Cardinals have set their sights on another important goal -- home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
Through 160 games, St. Louis and Atlanta are deadlocked with 95-65 records. The Braves own the tiebreaker with a 4-3 edge in the season series.
"The goal is going to shift toward that. We got to enjoy tonight and enjoy what we were able to accomplish this year, being division champs, especially with a division that had so many great teams," Cards outfielder Jon Jay said. "Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, they had a great year. They've obviously made the playoffs. You know, it was a dogfight all the way to the end."
Looking for the win on Saturday against the Cubs, the Cardinals will send ace Adam Wainwright to the hill at Busch Stadium in his final tuneup before Game 1 of the NL Divisional Series.
"What had as much factor of anything was sitting and talking with [Wainwright] about what he feels gives him the best chance to be successful and just continuing to treat the ace of the staff and as if were the ace of the staff," manager Mike Matheny said. "Continue to listen to these guys and how their body feels and he feels good. He's been on regular rest for a while. I think he's ready to just stay here."
The 32-year-old Wainwright leads St. Louis in innings pitched -- a career-high 236 1/3 this season. If Wainwright earns his 19th win, it will match Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the NL lead.
Meanwhile, the Cubs will call on Edwin Jackson to try to spoil the Cards' hopes of getting home-field advantage. It marks Jackson's last start in what has been a disappointing season.
He leads the NL in losses with 17, but after an encouraging outing last Sunday against the Braves, a win would allow him to go into the offseason on a positive note.
Jackson had a quality start in his last outing, allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings of work. While he struck out six and walked none, he still wound up taking the loss.
"I thought Jackson, it was one of the better games he's pitched, actually," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said afterward. "He threw his curveball a lot, he threw his changeup more than he has all year, and obviously he had his slider today, a really good slider and command of his fastball."
Cubs: Epstein to finish staff evaluations
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein will complete his evaluation of the manager and coaching staff on Monday.
"It's pretty standard at this time of year to take your time to look back at the season and make decisions on what can put the organization in the best position going forward," Epstein said. "This is part of the process. At the same time, we owe it to everyone involved to get it done quickly and move forward. We'll finish up the process on Monday."
Epstein was in St. Louis to conduct end of the season meetings with most of the players, along with general manager Jed Hoyer and Sveum. He first revealed the evaluation process regarding Sveum and his staff last week in Milwaukee.
Cardinals: Craig unlikely to play at start of playoffs
First baseman Allen Craig will be listed as doubtful for the NL Divisional Series after X-rays and a re-evaluation on Thursday.
General manager John Mozeliak announced on Friday that although Craig is progressing well from a Lisfranc injury of his left foot, he would be "shocked" if Craig was cleared in time to play in the NLDS.
"The smart thing to do is just to continue going with this conservative approach," Mozeliak said. "Do we have some optimism if we play deep into October he can still be available? The answer is yes, but as far as the short-term look, no."
• The starting time for Saturday's game was moved from 6:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. CT due to the threat of inclement weather for Saturday evening.
• The Cardinals' Major League-leading 36 wins from rookie pitchers this season are their most since 1952, when they received 34.
• The Cubs are 18-39 in their last 57 games dating to July 29, the lowest winning percentage (.316) in the NL in that time frame.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.