St. Louis Cardinals Season Preview

Off-Season Overview

Additions

Mike Leake, Jedd Gyorko, Seung-hwan Oh,

Losses

Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Steve Cishek, Mark Reynolds

In signing Leake it feels like a big win for the Cards given that they not only lost Lackey and Heyward, but lost them to the rival Cubs.Heyward stands out as the major loss given the Leake for Lackey swap. Heyward had a WAR of 6 last year, to put that in perspective their next three best outfielders combined for a 5.7 WAR so especially on defense it will be a struggle to fill the void. In all, they lost more than they gained this year, and for a team that may have played over their head last year it will be interesting to see how many of those 100 wins they give back this year .

Projected Playoff Lineup

  1. Matt Carpenter
  2. Stephen Piscotty
  3. Matt Holliday
  4. Randal Grichuk
  5. Jhonny Peralta
  6. Brandon Moss/Tommy Pham
  7. Yadier Molina
  8. Kolten Wong

The Cards are without Peralta for about the first month of the season and will have to shuffle their lineup around to adjust. Jedd Gyorko will get time and honestly it is a time for teams like the Pirates and Cubs to take advantage in the division. When Peralta is in the lineup it looks a lot stronger, but some questions could arise.  

Carpenter at lead off led the team with 28 home runs last year, which was a little peculiar, and you have to wonder if he can bring the same power this year. With the power boost he has seen his on base percentage drop by the year so at the lead off if he isn’t getting on it is a problem. If he isn’t getting on, and he isn’t bringing last year’s power it is a much bigger problem.

You also have some questions in your veterans with Molina now at 33 and Holiday and 36. The good thing is neither have been power hitters for a while now, and both can hit purely for contact. The hope would be that in the youth of Pham, Piscotty, and Grichuk, 28, 25, and 24, respectively that all three can find an increase in power and bring in a well rounded lineup.

Rotation

  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Carlos Martinez
  3. Michael Wacha
  4. Jaime Garcia
  5. Mike Leake

The Cardinals will essentially swap Leake for Lackey via free agency, and Wainwright for Lance Lynn via injury. The question now is are these upgrades or not. With Wainwright, on paper it is an upgrade. However, you do have a 34 year, who has arm injuries, and now has a leg injury on his record. Leake threw 26 less innings than Lackey and Lynn threw 175 innings last year. Wainwright could easily fill that 200 innings with quality play or he could fall off trying. However, given the innings pitched last year, Wacha suffered from late season fatigue, and Martinez ended his year with shoulder surgery. Both are 24, but both would be expected to get an increase in innings this year, but Martinez is unlikely to even be ready for the start of the season.

Depth luckily isn’t a huge concern, as the Cards do have farm system help. Marco Gonzales is the most prized of their MLB ready players, and Tim Cooney and Tyler Lyons have made MLB appearances last year. Still, as the season wears on guys like Wainwright, Wacha, and Martinez will be the difference between the Cardinals competing or not.

Bullpen

The Cardinals can rely on a talented bullpen. Lyons is expected to come out of the pen as a long reliever, and they have a solid 7-8-9 with Trevor Rosenthal finishing it off. Oh is a major wild card, and given the stamina problems of the starters he may end up being needed, but given the depth of the pen he can be eased into appearances and situations.

Overview

The stamina of the pitching staff is really the thing to watch with this team. Last year they won with situational hitting and their pitchers throwing above their heads. It just isn’t a great chance that they will hit in the same manner, so the staff needs to be at least as on point as last year. You then throw in the question marks and think that the pen and pulling them after 6 every night will work. If the pen is getting tired, and you’re shuffling guys like Lyons and Cooney in and out of the pen and it becomes a problem. Given that the Cardinals are miraculous in how they deal with adversity it probably won’t be the problem it appears it could be, but if the Cardinals were to take a step back that would be the recipe. That said given the depth concerns, and the play of the division it may come off as crazy, but right now they sit as the third best team in the division, and may see themselves out of the wild card.

3rd in the NL Central

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