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Re-established Redbirds?

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Re-established Redbirds?

Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Yairo Munoz

Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Yairo Munoz

David Zalubowski

Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Yairo Munoz

David Zalubowski

David Zalubowski

Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Yairo Munoz

Nick Bone, Staff Writer

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After missing the postseason for the third straight year, the Cardinals look to rebound from their recent woes. While the bitter cold and bipolar weather continue to plague the St. Louis area, pitchers and catchers reported to Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday for 2019 Spring Training.

The Lineup

In early December, the Cardinals traded C Carson Kelly, RHP Luke Weaver, 2B Andy Young and future considerations to the Arizona Diamondbacks for five-tool, MVP-caliber 1B Paul Goldschmidt.

Arguably for the first time since 1B Albert Pujols’s departure, the Cardinals have a player who will strike fear into the heart of any pitcher who faces him. Goldschmidt will solidify the top of the lineup with his ability to hit for both power and average. But Goldschmidt won’t be the only scary hitter in the lineup.

Left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who dealt with a shoulder injury for the entirety of the 2018 season, is recovering from offseason surgery. If he is once again healthy, he easily has the potential to be the 30 plus homerun guy the Cardinals expected him to be a season ago.

The potential for the long ball threat is tremendous at the top of the Cardinals lineup, especially with leadoff man 3B Matt Carpenter, who slugged 36 home runs in 2018.

The infield, left field and center field are all pretty much set in stone, but right field is a jump ball. Tyler O’Neill, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez will be slugging it out to see who will be playing on Opening Day.

The Defense

2018 was a disaster for the Cardinals defensively. They led the the Major Leagues in errors last season with 133, which was ten more than any other team. However, the team’s defense is looking much more solid this year.

With 2B Kolten Wong, SS Paul DeJong, CF Harrison Bader, 1B Goldschmidt and C Yadier Molina expected to start this year, the Cardinals have five legitimate Gold Glove candidates.  

The key for the Cardinals is staying healthy. Dejong, Wong and Molina all missed time due to injuries last season, and Bader did not begin the season as the starter. With these five players, the Cardinal defense is projected to be much better.

The Rotation

The Cardinals have one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball. The rotation is led by right handed pitcher Miles Mikolas, who had a breakout season in 2018. He had an ERA of 2.83, which was fourth in the National League. But he wasn’t the only Cardinal pitcher who was effective.

RHP Jack Flaherty had an incredible season this past year. He struck out 182 batters in 2018, which led the club. Both Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez were effective last season; however, they both struggled with injuries throughout the year.

While the first four spots of the rotation are pretty much set in stone barring injury, the fifth starter spot is up for grabs. The Cardinals have a surplus of pitchers who could all fill the spot. RHP John Gant, LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Dakota Hudson, RHP Daniel Ponce De Leon and RHP Adam Wainwright will battle this spring to see who will fill the last starter spot. While Wainwright is expected to fill the last starter spot, he will have to outpitch a plethora of young talent.

The Bullpen

The Cardinals bullpen down the stretch last year was tremendous. After some early season struggles, the Cardinals made changes to the pen which essentially saved their season. While they were better towards the end of the year, the Cardinals lacked late inning dominance.

On December 21, the Cardinals signed free agent LHP Andrew Miller to a two year, 25 million dollar deal with an option for the 2021 season, if he pitches in over 110 games over the next two years.

His presence in the back end of the bullpen will surely give the Cardinals more confidence in late innings. While Miller is undoubtedly the biggest name in the Cardinals bullpen, he may not be the closer.

RHP Jordan Hicks, RHP Alex Reyes and RHP John Brebbia all have the potential to fill the closer role as well. The battle for the ninth inning is set to be one of the most intense battles this spring.

This year’s Spring Training will be one of the most entertaining in recent memory. Make sure to keep an eye on these key battles as young players try to prove themselves worthy of a big league spot and veterans try to prove once again that they deserve the starting nod.

 

Sources:

MLB.com

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About the Writer
Nick Bone, Staff Writer

Nick Bone is a senior at St. Dominic. He is involved in Peer Ministry, AD Club, varsity baseball and is the president of the Ambassadors club. In his free...

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Re-established Redbirds?