Baseball Is Back!

Cardinals’ Spring Training Performances Lead to Opening Day Predictions

Baseball Is Back!

ELIOTT MEYERS, Reporter & Anchor

Baseball is back in full swing this week. Spring training is here, and teams are preparing for the regular season. The Cardinals played their first spring training game on February 22 against the Mets. So here I am, trying to predict what will happen, a month before the regular season. Here’s my projected opening day lineups for the Cardinals. (A lock means there is a very small chance of them losing this spot.)

Pitching Rotation:Jack Flaherty (Lock), Dakota Hudson (Lock), Adam Wainwright (Lock), Kim Kwang-hyun and Carlos Martinez

Miles Mikolas has been set back a few weeks with a forearm injury. The Cardinals will need a replacement for five to ten starts. This opens the door for several players to make a play on a starting spot. But realistically the experienced starters are the ones most likely to take the job.

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So here I am, trying to predict what will happen, a month before the regular season. Here’s my projected opening day lineups for the Cardinals.”

— Eliott Meyers

Catcher: Yadier Molina (Lock)

This one is a no-brainer. Yadi has been the starting catcher, consistently for over a decade. He is still playing at a higher level than most catchers, and his hitting continues to improve. You’ll surely see him behind the plate this year.

First base: Paul Goldschmidt (Lock)

Although he had a bit of an off year last year, Goldschmidt doesn’t have any reasonable competition and will continue to put up gold defense. He also adds a useful bat to the lineup. It’s safe to say he’ll be there on opening day.

Second Base: Kolten Wong (Lock)

Kolten Wong is finally getting that consistent starting job he always wanted. He played Gold-Glove defense and improved his offense. The only person who could take his job is Tommy Edman, but he’ll spend more time filling for Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong. Wong is sure to be an everyday player for years to come.

Third Base: Matt Carpenter

Matt Carpenter is the only player with his job in jeopardy with the rise of Tommy Edman late last season. If he wants to keep his spot, he’ll need to find the offensive power that gave him his shiny new contract. If not he could have his job taken from him by Edman or Yario Munoz.

Shortstop: Paul DeJong (Lock)

The best power hitting shortstop in Cardinals’ history is coming off a 30 home run season and a Gold Glove nomination. The former runner up for Rookie of the Year is eyeing another year as a starter. He will sit more games this year; but other than that, he should be a regular addition to the starting lineup.

Outfield: Harrison Bader, Lane Thomas and Dexter Fowler

Harrison Bader is one of the fastest players in baseball, and his hitting is starting to improve. As long as he keeps it up, he’ll be an everyday player. Dexter Fowler has been a good defender but an offensive liability and is being overpaid. Lane Thomas raked in the majors before he got hurt. Watch for Tyler O’Neal, though, because he has excellent power potential but is held back by his strikeout rate. Justin Williams is also a name to watch out for. Dylan Carlson (MLB pipeline #17 ranked prospect) is extremely likely to be called up, but it’s also likely they’ll keep him in Triple-A for a little bit over a month before being called up. When that happens, he’ll likely take over for Fowler who was able to perform well when coming off the bench to pinch hit.

Closer: Giovanny Gallegos

Gallegos became one of the Cardinals’ best bullpen arms last year and will look to take the closing spot as Carlos Martinez ascends to a starting spot. Andrew Miller could take the spot, but he’s been inconsistent and once got booed off the field in an important game against the Cubs. Miller will remain an important part of the rotation however.

Pinch hit: Tyler O’Neill, Austin Dean, Tommy Edman (lock), and Matt Wieters (lock)

Tyler O’Neal is a hitter with 40 home run potential. However, the 40% strikeout rate looks to keep him on the bench unless Lane Thomas collapses. Austin Dean will need to prove himself or the other new kid on the block, Brad Miller, will take his spot. Matt Wieters will serve as Yadi’s backup for a second year so Andrew Knizer (Cardinals #4 prospect) can develop in Triple-A.

Baseball season starts soon, and the Cardinals are reloading for another NL Central title. They certainly have a chance if the prospect pool delivers. While they’d have to go through the Dodgers for a World Series, they’ve done all they can to give themselves a chance to do so.