The Cardinals largely return the starting unit that helped them garner last season’s NL Central crown, with the notable exception of veteran slugger Marcell Ozuna. However, there are no shortage of young hopefuls and reinforcements already in-house, and the rest of manager Mike Shildt’s division-winning squad otherwise returns intact in terms of starters. They’re spearheaded by a pair of 30-homer candidates in Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong, the latter who may just be entering his prime and has focused all offseason and spring training on improving his production with runners in scoring position.
The universal implementation of the designated hitter for 2020 also creates an opportunity for Tommy Edman to potentially take on an everyday role at third base. Such a development presents an opportunity for multiple benefits – not only would Edman’s talented bat be a constant presence, but veteran Matt Carpenter, who Edman would theoretically supplant at the hot corner in this scenario, could thrive as a DH. Meanwhile, such a development could also open up some playing time for those aforementioned outfield hopefuls that could benefit from the reps, a group that includes Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Harrison Bader and potentially, even elite prospect Dylan Carlson.
St. Louis’ rotation has some big names and the potential to excel top to bottom with a bit of luck and some good health. Jack Flaherty proved he was ready to shoulder the load of staff ace with an excellent 2019 in which he posted a career-best 2.75 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, while Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson are formidable No. 2 and No. 3 options. The No. 4 slot in the rotation belongs to former Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright, who showed he still had plenty left in the tank at age 37 last season by racking up 14 wins. And in a testament to the quality depth manager Mike Shildt is blessed with, the No. 5 role is expected to be filled by either Carlos Martinez or offseason import Kwang-Hyun Kim. Martinez has been thought of as having ace-quality stuff in the past and sports three double-digit-win seasons on his resume, while Kim compiled 39 wins over the last three seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization.
The Cardinals’ projected win total of 32.5 certainly seems reachable and conquerable if the team’s pitching lives up to its potential and its key hitters remain in good health. St. Louis also sports appealing prices on its division, pennant and World Series futures, and they certainly have enough talent to make a deep postseason run at minimum in a shortened season such as the upcoming one.
An example of how a wager on the Cardinals winning the NL Central would pay out at the current odds listed above is as follows:
Wager amount: $10.00
Division winner odds: (DraftKings Sportsbook): +240
Payout: $34.00: ($24.00 + original $10.00 bet amount)
Cardinals odds: Futures
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals betting breakdown
2019 record: 91-71 (NL Central champions)
Key losses:OF Jose Martinez, LF Marcell Ozuna, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Michael Wacha
Key injuries: RHP Jordan Hicks (UCL/Tommy John – expected back in August)
Key additions: LHP Kwang-hyun Kim
- 2B Kolten Wong (L)
- DH Matt Carpenter (L)
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt (R)
- SS Paul Dejong (R)
- C Yadier Molina (R)
- RF Dexter Fowler (S)
- 3B Tommy Edman (S)
- LF Tyler O’Neill (R)
- CF Harrison Bader (R)
Projected rotation:RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Miles Mikolas, RHP Dakota Hudson, RHP Adam Wainwright, RHP Carlos Martinez
Projected closer: RHP Ryan Helsley/ RHP Giovanny Gallegos
Bullpen strengths: Most of the arms from a solid pen in 2019 return. Andrew Miller returns as the lead set-up man. The lefty veteran posted a 4.45 ERA (54.2 IP, 11 GF) 6 SV and 70 SO in 73 games. Tyler Webb returns as well after a similar 2019 campaign. Webb posted a 3.76 ERA with 48 SO in 65 Games (55.0 IP, 11 GF). John Gant went 11-1 with a 3.66 ERA in ‘19 in 66.1 IP & 60 SO. Gant could be used as the closer, in relief or as a starter to fill injury-related holes. Giovanny Gallegos had a breakout 2019 with a 2.31 ERA with 93 SO in 74.0 IP (66 Games).
Bullpen weaknesses: The closer job is a bit of a question mark with Jordan Hicks out until around July (the old All-Star break). Ryan Helsley is projected to fill the role for now after a 1.29 ERA in 7.0 IP this Spring. The 25-year-old youngster appeared in 24 games in 2019 and posted a 2.95 ERA with 32 SO. Alex Reyes may be a relief candidate after an injury-plagued 2019 where he only appeared in four games and posted a 15.00 ERA.
Key stats from 2019
- SS Paul DeJong hit 30 home runs and 78 RBIs, making the All-Star Game for the first time in his young career.
- 3B Matt Carpenter had career lows in BA (.226), OBP (.334) and SLG (.392).
- Tommy Edman was the definition of utility. Edman played five positions in 2019: 2nd (29 games), 3rd (55 games), Left Field (1 game), Center Field (1 game), Right Field (12 games). He slashed.304/.350/.500 across 92 games.
- Carlos Martinez had 24 Saves in 2019, but he’s likeliest to be used in the the starting rotation in 2020.
- The Cards led the Majors in errors with 133 in 2018 and then committed the fewest (66) in 2019 (Athlon).
- The Cardinals were scheduled to play a two-game series vs the Cubs in London in 2020, but that has now been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- St. Louis clinched their playoff berth (1st since 2015) with a sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field in September. Each game was decided by one run, with three of the wins coming in the final at-bat for the Cards (Athlon).