The St Louis Cardinals ended a three-year playoff drought last season by winning the NL Central Division and then upset the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. However, the Cards were swept by Washington in the NLCS. Could St. Louis take another step in 2020? Let’s check the MLB Odds and World Series Odds for the St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Season.
St Louis Cardinals 2020 Pre-Season Analysis
St. Louis Cardinals Offensive Analysis
St. Louis was awfully quiet this offseason. There were rumors the team was in talks with the Colorado Rockies to acquire All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, which would hugely have upgraded this offense and made the Cards clear favorites in the NL Central. Alas, Arenado is still in Denver – maybe the teams can revisit talks later this season.
The Cards also watched outfielder Marcell Ozuna walk away in free agency without making much of an effort to keep him. Ozuna, 29, is coming off a 2019 season in which he put up an OPS+ of 107 for the Cardinals with 29 home runs in 130 games. Because of the small value of that contract, the Cardinals will not receive a compensation pick even though Ozuna turned down their $17.8 million qualifying offer.
Ozuna leaving opened a path for regular playing time for a young outfielder in St. Louis. Tyler O’Neill and top prospect Dylan Carlson are the leading candidates to replace Ozuna in left. It likely will be O’Neil.
The Cards have a pretty solid offensive infield of Tommy Edman at third, Paul DeJong at short, Kolten Wong at second and Paul Goldschmidt at first. Goldschmidt, 32, hit .260 with 34 homers and 97 RBIs last year for the NL Central champions after the Cardinals acquired him in an offseason trade with Arizona. His batting average was more than 30 points below his career average.
However, the offense as a whole needs to improve if the Cardinals want to get further into the postseason than last year. Situational hitting will be key; the Cards’ .250 average with runners in scoring position ranked 24th in the Majors last year. Determining a more productive leadoff hitter – probably either Matt Carpenter or Dexter Fowler having better seasons or a new face entirely — will be crucial in giving a jolt to the top of the lineup.
St Louis Cardinals Pitching Analysis
The St Louis Cardinals are returning most of their starters from last season, led by young ace Jack Flaherty. He was the best pitcher in baseball the second half of last season – a 0.91 ERA and 0.71 WHIP — and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. Overall he went 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 33 starts. He also started three games in the postseason, allowing eight earned runs in 17 innings.
Yet the team renewed his contract for just over $600K this offseason, which is ridiculous. Flaherty will be arbitration-eligible at the end of this and another big season would lead to a substantial payday. Flaherty should start Opening Day whenever that is. That would be a first for the 24-year-old.
“It’s cool,” Flaherty said. “Just happy I get the ball first, get the first chance to go out and kind of set the tone for the season.”
Dakota Hudson is another good young pitcher. Hudson racked up 16 wins alongside a 3.35 ERA in 174 2/3 regular-season innings as a rookie. He did lead the NL with 86 walks, though, and was bombed in Game 4 of the NLCS vs. Washington, recording only one out and was charged with seven runs — four earned – in the loss.
Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas (if healthy) and either Carlos Martinez or Korean offseason addition Kwang-Hyun Kim should round out the rotation. Martinez was the team’s closer to conclude last year and had 24 saves but prefers to start.
Kim, a lefty, spent the past 12 seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization. Kim, who was named the best pitcher in the KBO this past season when he was 17-6 with a 2.51 ERA, averages in the mid-90s on his fastball, with it ticking as high as 97. He also employs two sliders _ “a fast slider and a slow slider,” he said. Kim struck out 310 batters and walked only 68 over 326 1/3 innings in his past two seasons. Could be that Kim starts in the bullpen.
St. Louis Cardinals Offseason Movements
- St. Louis Cardinals Notable additions: OF Austin Dean, SP Kwang-Hyun Kim, SP Matthew Liberatore, IF Brad Miller.
- St. Louis Cardinals Notable subtractions: OF Randy Arozarena (TB), RP Dominic Leone (CLE), OF/1B Jose Martinez (TB), OF Marcell Ozuna (ATL).