2018 St. Louis Cardinals Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
An MLB postseason without the St. Louis Cardinals has been a rare happening for the last decade or so - until recently. The Cardinals have missed two straight postseasons, and fans are starting to get frustrated with the team's direction. Manager Mike Matheny figures to be on the hot seat this season if things aren't going well at the All-Star break.
As of writing this - it's still early in spring training - the Cardinals haven't done much in order to bolster their roster. The batting lineup figures to be much like it was last season, with the exception of adding Marcell Ozuna to the mix. The only difference between last year's lineup and the one Matheny will put out the majority of the season is the batting order. There are still several concerns regarding the bottom part of the order, including production from guys like Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong - both of who are coming off sub-par seasons.
The Cardinals have very obvious best- and worst-case scenarios. Last season the Cards finished with a record of 83-79, which was good enough for third in the Central, nine games back of the Chicago Cubs. The best-case scenario for the Cards this year is that they stay healthy enough all season long in order to keep pace with the Cubs and Brewers. Not only did several regulars miss time due to injury, but Alex Reyes - the odds-on favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award - missed the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. This year, Reyes will be tasked with complimenting an already-solid rotation with important and effective innings. On the flip side, the worst-case scenario for this Cards team is another injury-filled season (same can be said about every team) and some very poor timely hitting.
The Cardinals will open the regular season on March 29 with a three-game series at Citi Field against the New York Mets. From there, the Cardinals will travel to Milwaukee for a three-game set before hosting their home opener on April 5 against Arizona. The Cardinals come into this season as relative long shots to win the World Series (+2000), +900 to win the NL Pennant and +375 to win the NL Central. Their win total has been set at 85.5, with the "over" checking in at -130.
All odds are courtesy of Bovada.
Cardinals 2018 Projected Lineup
The Cardinals projected lineup leaves a lot to be desired. They simply do not have the offensive firepower that the Cubs or Brewers have, which could be there crutch in 2018.
My projected lineup looks like this:
1. Matt Carpenter
2. Tommy Pham
3. Marcell Ozuna
4. Paul DeJong
5. Dexter Fowler
6. Yadier Molina
7. Jedd Gyorko
8. Kolten Wong
9. Pitcher's spot.
I'm more than fine with Carpenter batting leadoff since he is a career .291 hitter with 73 home runs out of the first spot. Last year he finished with 14 home runs and a .268 average batting leadoff, which isn't the worst production. He has also led the league in hits and walks in two different years, which are two key stats when looking at a suitable leadoff man.
Behind him, the trio of Pham, Ozuna and DeJong has the potential to scare opposing pitchers. In Pham, you are getting a career.310 hitter while batting out of the two-hole. He also stole 25 bases last year and drew 71 walks. With Ozuna, you are getting a home run hitter. He knocked out 37 round trippers last year and produced 124 RBIs on a bad Marlins team. If he can replicate that success this season, the Cards offense should flourish. Behind Ozuna, and batting fourth in the lineup, is DeJong. He is coming off a season in which he hit .285 with 25 home runs and 65 RBIs.
The real concern lies with the bottom of the order starting with Fowler and ending with Wong. Fowler figures to be a middle-of-the-order "leadoff" man if you will. His power isn't all that great, but he can be a great contact hitter when he is in form.
Cardinals 2018 Projected Rotation & Closer
The Cardinals pitching rotation is going to look somewhat similar to last year's rotation with the exception of two major subtractions. Gone from the rotation are Mike Leake and Lance Lynn, two veteran pitchers that started more than one-third of the team's games last season. To fill that void, the Cardinals are going to give Luke Waver and Alex Reyes a chance to become bonified starters in the Majors. Great things are expected from both pitchers, and Weaver delivered in his brief role last year, going 7-2 in 10 starts.
However, the most important part of the rotation is Carlos Martinez. Martinez is now the ace of the pitching staff, and he has electric stuff that can be very effective throughout the year. Martinez ate up 205 innings last year and posted a record of 12-11 with a 3.64 ERA. If Martinez can eliminate his first-inning troubles and be better as a defensive pitcher, he could very well take the next step to becoming a Cy Young contender.
And lastly, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the health and effectiveness of Adam Wainwright, a once bonifide ace. Wainwright is coming off two subpar seasons, and his 4.81 ERA over the past two seasons is ranked 59th among 61 pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched.
The bullpen features several big-time relief pitchers such as Luke Gregerson, Tyler Lyons and Brett Cecil. Cecil had a decent season last year, posting four saves and 18 holds last year with a 3.34 ERA. The closing duties will once again fall on the shoulders of Gregerson. Gregerson posted a record of 4-3 with 25 saves and an ERA of 3.46
Cardinals 2018 Predictions
FanGraphs projects St. Louis to finish with a record of 88-74, which would be good enough once again for second in the NL Central. I can't find many reasons to be optimistic about this ball club, but the Cardinals have been such a consistent team for such a long period of time that it would be dumb for me to count them out before the season even begins. If I had to play their team total, I would lean "under" for one reason -- I don't believe in the pitching staff.
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