2021 St. Louis Cardinals Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
After missing the playoffs in three straight seasons between 2016 and 2018, the St. Louis Cardinals have earned the privilege of playing October baseball in two straight seasons. They’ve managed just one series win in that span, beating out the Brewers in the 2019 NLDS before getting swept by the eventual World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. Last year, the Cardinals finished with a record of 30-28, which was good enough for second place in the NL Central and good enough to earn them a wild-card spot. They were ousted by the Padres in the NLWC, and once again misery befell them.
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So, what have they done to try and erase the memory of their failed playoff runs? Well, they went out and traded for one of the best hitters in the game, and they are certain that he’s what’s been missing from their opening day roster.
The Cardinals will open the regular season on April 1 with a three-game series at Great American Ball Park against the Cincinnati Reds. From there, the Cardinals will travel to Miami for a three-game set before hosting their home opener on April 8 against Milwaukee. The Cardinals come into this season as relative long shots to win the World Series (+2200), +1200 to win the NL Pennant and +105 to win the NL Central. Their win total has been set at 86.5.
Cardinals 2021 Projected Lineup
One quick look at the Cardinals’ batting order and you’ll quickly figure out why they are the favorite to dominate the NL Central and get back to the playoffs for the third straight year. Their projected lineup for opening day looks like this:
- Tommy Edman
- Paul DeJong
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Nolan Arenado
- Dylan Carson
- Yadier Molina
- Tyler O’Neill
- Harrison Bader
- Pitcher’s spot.
Three years after landing Paul Goldschmidt in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the St. Louis Cardinals landed another big name, Nolan Arenado, this time from Colorado. Arenado is coming off a season in which he hit just eight home runs and batted for a .253 average in 201 plate appearances. However, last year’s weird season should deter you from thinking that Arenado is not the real deal. Over his last five seasons in Colorado, Arenado has hit no less than 37 home runs (42, 41, 37, 38, 41) and scored no less than 97 runs (97, 116, 100, 104, 102). He’s also driven in 130, 133, 130, 110 and 118 runs in that time frame all while hitting near .300 in every single season. He’s going to be a great addition to a Cardinals team that needed a boost in terms of offensive production.
If the Cardinals can get good production out of Arenado, then the weight should be eased a bit on Goldschmidt’s shoulders. The former Diamondback hit .301 last year but managed just six long balls. If he can get back to the form he showed in Arizona where he spent 2016-2018 hitting more than 30 home runs each season, the Cardinals are going to be up near the top of the offensive categories this season.
The real concern lies with the bottom half of the order. The projections are mediocre at best, with Carson slated for 18 long balls, Molina with nine, Bader with 19 and O’Neill leading the way with 28. If they can just keep their average up and set the table and flip the lineup over for the top guys, the Cardinals will be okay this season.
Cardinals 2021 Projected Rotation & Closer
The Cardinals’ pitching rotation is going to look somewhat similar to last year’s rotation, and we don’t see that as a bad thing. The proverbial ‘ace’ of the staff will be Jack Flaherty, and the 25-year-old deserves my full praise. He pitched good enough last year, but it was the 2019 season that really showed us what Flaherty can do. He owned an 11-8 record in 33 starts with a 2.75 ERA. Anything similar to that this year and the Cardinals will be enjoying some success.
Behind him, Kwang Hyun Jim, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez and Mike Mikolas round out the starting rotation. Kim and Wainwright had decent enough seasons last year to trust them to perform well this year. They are both projected for around 27 starts and an ERA of 4.03 and 4.53, respectively. The issue is with Martinez, who fell off a cliff last year with his performance. Martinez started five games and went 0-3 in that span while posting a 9.90 ERA. That’s absurd for a pitcher who, in the previous five years, had an ERA north of 3.64 just one time. Perhaps it was the weird season that got to Martinez? Only time will tell which C-Mart we see in 2021.
As for the bullpen, it features a few guys that can take up the closing role mantle with good effect. I’m willing to guess that Alex Reyes gets the closing duties to start. And should he falter, Giovanny Gallegos will be there to pick him up.
Cardinals 2021 Predictions
FanGraphs projects St. Louis to finish this season with a record of 80-82, which would be good enough to tie for the NL Central title with the Brewers. On paper, I’d rather take the Cardinals over the Brewers based on offensive firepower, but the pitching definitely concerns me. The win total is where it’s at for a reason, and Vegas believes in the Cardinals more so than the numbers do. I’d look to play to the “over” the win total as I see this team being the class of the division.
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