Another Playoff Run in 2020?
Coming into the 2020 MLB season, the St. Louis Cardinals expect to make another deep World Series Playoff run. Making the postseason in 2019 after an unusual three-year absence, the Cardinals were swept out of the NLCS by the eventual World Series Champions, Washington Nationals. Not only was the team out hit in the series, but also outpitched. The 2019 campaign started off up and down for the rotation. It wasn’t until after the All-star Break that a few members of the staff caught fire. This resurgence helped lead the team from 3rd to 1st place in the NL Central as they battled it out against the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.
Proud of this team 👊 pic.twitter.com/QkNKvxwQHZ— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 17, 2019
Promising Young Arms
The stud of the rotation was a young arm, Jack Flaherty, who could be in consideration for an NL Cy Young award in 2020. He will enter the season as the ace of the staff. Another promising young arm named Dakota Hudson put together an impressive 2019 campaign leading the team in wins with 16. My only concern with Hudson is that he also led the team in walks. As his arm continues to develop, I expect his control to improve causing his walk ratio to decrease. The combination of Hudson (25) and Flaherty (24) in the rotation will help the Cardinals stay competitive in the NL Central for years to come. The Cardinals could look to promote their young prospect, Angel Rondon, as a future replacement once Wainwright retires. Rondon (22) earned pitcher of the year honors with the AA Springfield Cardinals.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Another surprise after the All-star Break was how impressive long time Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright threw. He boasted one the top ERA’s down the stretch and pitched well in the postseason. It seemed that he had found the Fountain of Youth. As much as this could be a glimpse of hope for the Cardinals rotation in the 2020 season, it would be unrealistic to expect it again as he is now 38 years old. Miles Mikolas had lofty expectations coming into the 2019 season, but when it came to a close his performance left us wanting more. If Mikolas can regain and perform up to the expectations he had coming into 2019 then he would be a quality arm in the rotation. Michael Wacha was another St. Louis Cardinals pitcher we expected to have a better year in 2019. The numbers wouldn’t look as bad if the bats would have supported him more during his outings. After the winter meetings, the team does not expect to bring back Wacha as a free agent. Currently, the Cardinals are pursuing a lefty bat for their lineup in free agency, but if they can’t land one; I believe the Cardinals should look to add another pitcher.
One more year for Waino!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 12, 2019
We have agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Adam Wainwright on a one-year contract for 2020. pic.twitter.com/ZzKnVUKly1
Relief for the Bullpen?
The weakness of this pitching staff is the bullpen. Heading into the season Andrew Miller was supposed to be the closer. However, he did not perform well early on and Jordan Hicks was transitioned into the closer role until Carlos Martinez became healthy later in the season. Martinez performed well as the closer until the postseason where he just unraveled. John Gant was able to pick up 11 wins as a reliever and set up man to Martinez. We can’t talk about the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff without mentioning one of their top prospects, Alex Reyes. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury. If Reyes comes into the 2020 season healthy, I believe he can provide another strong young arm to the bullpen.
Today we moved RHP Jordan Hicks, LHP Brett Cecil & OF Lane Thomas from the 60-day IL to our 40-man Major League roster and outrighted C Joe Hudson.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 1, 2019
Additionally, RHP Mike Mayers was claimed off waivers by the Angels, bringing the number of players on our 40-man roster to 37. pic.twitter.com/XLjlcGKWAx
Set for the Future
Overall, I believe the St. Louis Cardinals will have one of the best rotations in the NL riding off the back of their young arms in Flaherty, Hudson, Reyes, Gant, and Martinez. Hopefully, they get more support from their offense this season with the addition of a strong lefty bat through free agency.
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