If you are a team in the NL Central, you need to watch out for this Cardinals team in 2018. The Red Birds lost a bunch of key pieces in 2017 but replaced them in the offseason and replaced them in a big way. This team is going to live and die by the long ball in 2018 and if their bats can get hot at the right time, you will see this team play in October. Are they good enough to win their division? No, the Cubs are much more talented but that does not mean that this Cardinals team won’t be competitors. St. Louis has the pieces to win, the question will be however, can they put them together and formulate a winning recipe? Only time will tell.
One of the key factors for the Cardinals success in 2018 is going to be whether or not their arms can produce this summer. The Cardinals have a young yet experienced pitching staff that is led by one of the better aces in the game. At the one, the Cardinals trot out a hard throwing righty from the Dominican Republic, Carlos Martinez. Martinez has electric stuff and is slowly starting to assert himself as a superstar in this league. You can expect Martinez to have a big 2018 season, one in where he strikes out over 200 batters, has a sub 3 ERA and collects somewhere around 12-14 wins. Complimenting Martinez at the two is Adam Wainwright, a 12 year veteran who may not provide you with ace stuff anymore, but will provide a veteran and leadership presence in the locker room that is crucial to a winning major league club house. The Cardinals also have a very good righty from Iowa City in Michael Wacha who when he is on, is one of the more dangerous pitchers in the National League. The unfortunate thing for the Cardinals however, is that Wacha is not very consistent and it is mostly a toss-up of when he will be on or not. Capping off the Cardinals rotation is Luke Weaver who had an impressive sophomore season, finishing the year with a 7-2 record and a 3.88 ERA. They also have Miles Mikolas and Alex Reyes, but you should not expect much from them. The main production is going to come from the 1-4 spots in the rotation. Overall, this Cardinals starting rotation can best be described as average. They have a really good ace who I believe is one of the better young pitchers in the majors, but other than that, they have a washed up 12 year vet, a potential stud who shows way too much inconsistency and a Floridian who has shown promise, but has yet to prove himself. I think Martinez will be asked to carry more weight than he is capable in carrying and think that will show with a mediocre 2018 season for the Cardinals starting rotation.
The most talented part of the Cardinals team and a factor that will make or break their 2018 season is the Cardinals offense and the production they will bring with it this summer. The Cardinals offense is loaded with powerful bats that features a new bat that turned their offense from good to great. This bat comes from of course Marcell Ozuna. I think Ozuna was the biggest offseason acquisition in the entire MLB and think he will have the biggest impact for his new team. Ozuna had one of the better seasons you will ever see in 2017 and finished the year with a .312 BA, a .376 OBP, hit 37 homers and drove in 124 runs. Ozuna has established himself as one of the best outfielders in all of baseball and the Cardinals should be counting their blessings that they landed this stud. I think Ozuna will have a huge 2018 season and have him finishing the year with a .310 BA have him hitting 40 HR and have him driving in 125 runs on the year. Complimenting Ozuna’s powerful bat is Tommy Pham, an outfielder who finally got healthy in 2017, and showed just how special of a player he can be. Tommy Pham has been a guy that has always struggled with injuries his entire career. He could never seem to stay off the DL, which obviously limited his full potential. In 2017 however, Pham finally stayed healthy and had a tremendous 2017 campaign, finishing the season with a .306 BA, hit 23 homers and drove in 73 runs on the year. I believe Pham will continue to stay healthy, continue to get better and the Cardinals can expect big things from this Las Vegas native in 2018. The Cardinals power continues to supplement itself with a bat in the likes of SS, Paul DeJong. DeJong burst onto the scene in 2017, and had an impressive rookie year, finishing the season with 25 homers and 65 RBIs. To hit 25 homers in your rookie season is no easy feat, and I expect DeJong to have a huge sophomore season in 2018 and could see him easily hitting 30 plus homers on the year. The Cardinals can also come at you with veteran hitting in the likes of Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter and future hall of famer Yadier Molina. This Cardinal offense is explosive, powerful and balanced and I expect them to have a huge 2018 season and think they will be one of the better offenses in the NL Central.
Overall, I am a big fan of this 2018 Cardinals team. I think they have an average defense, but think their explosive offense will more than make up for it. I think they will compete for a division title until late August, but then will start to lose ground to the more talented Chicago Cubs. I like this Cardinals team to finish with somewhere around 85-87 wins which will land them a spot in the NL Wild Card game which is going to be incredibly competitive this year. I then have them advancing to the NLDS after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game. They will then however be eliminated in the NLDS to division rival, the Chicago Cubs. The St. Louis Cardinals have some of the best fans in baseball, and you will hear them loud and clear this summer as this ball club is going to win a lot of games and be competitive all the way into October.