For the first time since 2010, the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves sitting at home watching the playoffs. They fell a single-game short of a Wild Card spot. St. Louis knew they had to make some changes if they were going to keep up with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.
The Cardinals needed to get some new faces on the team, so they let outfielder Matt Holliday and pitcher Jaime Garcia both walk via free agency. That freed up a spot to sign Dexter Fowler, who is fresh off willing the World Series. Also, Garcia’s departure opens up a rotation spot for a young arm.
Do the Cardinals stand their ground or do they try to make a big move in an attempt to stay with the Cubs?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the St Louis Cardinals.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 86-76
Key Additions: OF Dexter Fowler, RP Brett Cecil, RP John Gant, RP Jordan Schafer & C Eric Fryer
Key Losses: OF Matt Holliday, OF Brandon Moss, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, SP Jaime Garcia, RP Seth Maness & RP Dean Kiekhefer
Interleague Schedule: AL East
Projected Starters: Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Jedd Gyorko, Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty
Projected Starting Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Michael Wacha & Lance Lynn
Closer: Seung-Hwan Oh
Fantasy Sleeper: 2B Kolten Wong – Wong struggled last season and was even demoted for a short stint. He also comes into this season with a soft tissue injury to his shoulder. He’s had it since late last season and it never healed up all the way. Nothing is structurally wrong with his shoulder, so it could just need some more rest or therapy. I think Wong could still contribute this season and all signs point to him being a good fantasy middle infielder.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Luke Weaver – Weaver has dominated at nearly every level since being drafted 27th overall in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft. He did struggle a bit when he was called up late last year. He made eight starts, went 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA. He had good control, but he was just getting rocked. He should start the season in Triple-A and I expect him to put up great numbers there. Weaver could become a top-of-the-rotation starter and I expect it.
Team Analysis: The Cardinals miss the postseason and there were a lot of reasons it happened.
The Cardinals starting rotation got rocked last year. Carlos Martinez was the only starter to put up numbers anywhere close to their career average. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Mike Leake’s ERAs were around an entire point higher than their career averages. If you dive into some advanced stats like xFIP, you can clearly see that they were very unlucky. Their BABIP were well above the league average as well. I think all three pitchers will bounce back and have solid seasons.
I’m excited to see how well Dexter Fowler does in this lineup. It was just a couple years ago when the Cardinals were near automatic when they had men in scoring position. The Cubs offense success often correlated on how well Fowler got on base in any given game. I think he will do very well for St. Louis.
I like the Cardinals this season, but I think they will finish at around the same win/loss record this season. I worry about a few hitters that I think had a career year last year. Jedd Gyorko will need to do it again this year for me to believe he’s legit. Also, I fear the Cardinals lack enough power as a whole. They can get by with playing small ball, but there will be a few games in which they need a homer with men on base, and they will fail. The Cardinals will be in the mix for the Wild Card spot, but I think they will fall a game or two short again.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 84.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 85-77 (2nd-tied in NL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.