The 2021 St Louis Cardinals will strive to make it past the Wildcard game, or even try and take the NL Central in a tough Division. The renewal of Yadier Molina was massive, but the acquisition of Nolan Arenado is game-changing. The 2020 season was a solid one for the Cardinals. They managed to finish second in their Division and came within a within three innings of making it past the Wildcard game. Although their season was to be stopped by the resilient San Diego Padres, they had a nice combination of success and used their system to bring youngsters into the Majors roster.
2021 St Louis Cardinals: Starting Rotation
SP1 – Jack Flaherty
The Opening Day pitcher last season, Flaherty comes off the back of a shaky campaign. Despite picking up four wins, and having a strikeout/9 of 10.9, his ERA was 4.91 and he allowed plenty of runs (22) and walks (16) in just 40.1 innings. His 2018 and 2019 seasons produced much better numbers and performances so Cardinals’ fans will be hoping the shortened 2020 season was just a blip. He heads into the 2021 season as SP1 due to Adam Wainwright likely to be demoted to SP3 approaching his age-39 season.
The Rest of the Rotation – Kwang Hyun Kim, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas
One of the most consistent pitching rotations in MLB, they all have a lot of experience with varying degrees of success. Adam Wainwright and Kwang Hyun Kim done well in 2020, with ERAs of 3.15 and 1.62 respectively. Their strikeouts may not be as impressive as Flaherty, but they are controlled and use their stuff to encourage groundouts with weak contact. They picked up plenty of wins between them, albeit with Wainwright going deeper into innings than Kim.
Miles Mikolas threw his first BP of the season after surgery wiped out his entire 2020 campaign. Although his 2019 season saw 14 losses, his SO/9 improved on his All-Star 2018 campaign. There will be questions on how many games he may be able to pitch in 2021, but a healthy Mikolas will be nothing but positive for the Cardinals.
The remaining spot could go to closer Carlos Martinez. He started to turn himself into a starter in 2020, albeit with poor results. He may be used on a more regular basis in 2021, but if he wasn’t to get the final starting position there are plenty in reserve. The loss of Dakota Hudson is a major blow for the Cardinals, so there is plenty of emphasis on the first 4 starters, in particular, to guide the 2021 St Louis Cardinals to success.
Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley, John Gant, Tyler Webb, Kodi Whitley, Daniel Ponce de Leon
Daniel Ponce de Leon could be utilized as a starter, like he was in 2020, in conjunction with Carlos Martinez. It will be interesting to see how that plays out, largely in part due to Ponce De Leon’s high BB/9 (5.5), despite his SO/9 being impressive (12.4). If he does start in the bullpen, he could be the most utilized out of the list above.
All the relievers had successful seasons in 2020, apart from Ryan Helsley. He was disappointing on the mound (5.25 ERA), but there should be some improvement in 2021.
Reyes, Gant, Webb, Miller, and Gallegos all had impressive ERAs, proving fruitful when guiding the Cardinals to the Wildcard game. There are varying levels of experience in the Cardinals’ bullpen, making it one of the most interesting ones in 2021.
2021 St Louis Cardinals: Starting Lineup
Outfield: Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader
Dylan Carlson had a mixed rookie campaign in 2020, averaging just .200 but hitting three homers and having 16 RBIs. He struck out 35 times, showing his inexperience at the plate, but should have a more productive 2021 season whilst slotting into the middle of the lineup. His glove also showed why he was graded 60 for fielding, making him a valuable member of the outfield.
O’Neill and Bader also have a lot to prove. They are coming off of the back of a .173 and .226 season respectively. Although O’Neill finished joint team-highest in HRs with 7, there wasn’t enough contact being made to allow the Cardinals to make the most of their offensive weapons. Bader fared slightly better in terms of average, but his output was restricted at getting on-base more. His homer output was low, and only produced 11 RBIs.
The outfield is probably one of the Cardinals’ weakest positions offensively, so there will be plenty of emphasis on these guys to at least produce some firepower in terms of XBHs and HRs for the 2021 St Louis Cardinals team to be successful.
Infield: Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Nolan Arenado, Paul DeJong
One of the most exciting infield teams in the MLB. The acquisition of Nolan Arenado answers the question marks of third base, while also bringing in a player who has eight consecutive Gold Gloves and four consecutive Platinum Gloves. There were some problems in terms of his bat in 2020, but it’s difficult to keep a good player down so expect fireworks in 2021 and he could be the key for the 2021 St Louis Cardinals winning the NL Central.
After Wong left for the Brewers, second base became an open position. But not for long. In steps Tommy ‘Mr. Versatile’ Edman. The true definition of a utility man, he has played his second-highest amount of defensive games at second base. Edman has also played third base, shortstop, and outfield, so he is no stranger to adaptation. He finished with a .250 BA and also a team-high 26 RBIs.
The first base and shortstop positions are covered by regulars Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong. Goldschmidt impressed in 2020, averaging .304 with six homers and 37 walks. Although he had a bone spur removed post the 2020 season, he should be ready for the upcoming season. DeJong, on the other hand, finished with a team-high 50 Ks in 2020. He did however hit three homers and have 25 RBIs. Most question marks will be how he adapts to working with Edman.
Catcher: Yadier Molina
Absolutely zero doubt over who will be the 2021 St Louis Cardinals starting catcher. The 38-year-old enters his 18th season with the Cardinals and is as consistent as they come. The hope is that he will stay healthy enough to be the everyday catcher, but if it is needed the Cardinals certainly have options. If he can maintain his consistent .260-.270 BA with double-digit homers then the Cards will be happy.
2021 St Louis Cardinals Opening Day Roster: Bench
With Molina being 38 and questions about everyday fitness, Knizner seems to be the viable choice to slot into a bench role. His bat showed potential last year, so will only improve the more he plays.
Carpenter and Thomas become infield and outfield back-up options. With Arenado taking third base, Carpenter could slot everywhere else in the infield with a bat that has to improve significantly after a poor 2020 season. Thomas covers a young and slightly inexperienced outfield. He could get the call to play more regularly if it doesn’t click with the starting outfielders.
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