The Solitaire

Postseason in the Cards

If the St Louis Cardinals are going coming back of the struggles from last year, there are things that should be changed to set them up for postseason.

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Postseason in the Cards

The Cardinals are currently ranked at the top at 14 to nine.

The Cardinals are currently ranked at the top at 14 to nine.

Tribune News Service/Brian Cassella

The Cardinals are currently ranked at the top at 14 to nine.

Tribune News Service/Brian Cassella

Tribune News Service/Brian Cassella

The Cardinals are currently ranked at the top at 14 to nine.

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fter a devastating year for Cardinal baseball, fans are optimistic for an improved team. Cardinals baseball faced many issues last year, but with new coaches and players comes new hope for the postseason.

“Some of the biggest problems the Cardinals faced last year was their management, their defense and their lack of starters who could go deep into games,” sophomore Jack Standley said. “The Cardinals last year at one point had 75 errors in 91 games.”

In 2018, the Cardinal’s pitching ranked the fourth lowest in strikeouts and had the second highest walk rate in the National League Division, according to mlb.com. Additionally, the head coach, Mike Matheny, was fired mid-season. Mike Shildt was promoted to interim manager and went 41-28 on the rest of the season, a refreshing stat compared to Matheny’s 46-47, according to baseball-reference.com.

As Mike Shildt takes on his first full season, the Cardinals must decide how to improve their bullpen. Pitchers like Alex Reyes, John Brebbia, Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks and John Gant may just be their answer. Right-handed Hicks has a fastball clocking in the hundreds, making him the perfect compliment to the steady left-handed Miller. Both relievers will see late-inning work, but Hicks is expected to increase his control, giving him the edge for the closing spot. Currently, Gant has a 0.60 ERA and Brebbia has a 0.73 ERA, making them the Cardinal’s go-to closers.

“If [Reyes] can stay healthy, I could see him having an amazing season and possibly winning rookie of the year,” sophomore Tanner Perry said.

Fixing the bullpen will solve only some of their issues. With new players, the team faces decisions regarding the starting line up and pitching rotation. Holding the highest OBP on the team at .374 and a solid slugging percentage of .523, according to baseball-reference.com, third baseman Matt Carpenter has returned to his leadoff spot after a phenomenal year. High-profile first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will takes the spot behind Carpenter, followed by shortstop Paul Dejong, left fielder Marcell Ozuna, right fielder Dexter Fowler, catcher Yadier Molina, second baseman Kolten Wong and center fielder Harrison Bader.

“I feel good about our bench this year,” Perry said. “Robinson can play almost every position on the field and is a decent left-handed hitter, Munoz can play multiple positions, Martinez is a very good hitter, Gyorko can provide some pop off the bench and O’Neill is a great source of power.”

As for the pitching rotation, Shildt is expected to place breakout pitcher Miles Mikolas in the number one spot. With a decent 2.83 earned run average and an astounding 18 wins and four losses, according to baseball-reference.com, Mikolas will be key in the success of Cardinals pitching. After a shoulder injury last year, Carlos Martinez adjusted to his old life in the bullpen. Martinez is facing shoulder injuries again, leaving them with a hole to fill, according to ksdk.com. Young Dakota Hudson will be sent into the rotation for Martinez, and so far, has proven worthy of the start. Coming off a solid season, Jack Flaherty is expected to perform even better than the last. Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright will close out the starting pitching spots, however, Wainwright’s success is controversial for the upcoming year.

“While I do hope Wainwright will have a very good season, with him being 37 and his diminished velocity, I don’t see that happening,” Perry said. “Pitchers like Alex Reyes, Dakota Hudson and Austin Gomber can fill his spot.”

With all this in mind, Cardinals fans are wondering what their postseason chances look like. Having placed third in the National League Central last year, according to baseball-reference.com, the Cardinals will need to make plenty of changes regarding the organization of the bullpen and discipline in the field. Shildt gives the team a good chance for the postseason, but division rivals like the Brewers and the Cubs may threaten their odds.

“Both are going to have very good seasons,” Perry said. “The Brewers have 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich and the Cubs have good players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.”

Through a renewed bullpen and better management, anticipation for the 2019 postseason will continue to rise as it floats through the minds of Cardinals fans everywhere.

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Postseason in the Cards