Cleat Geeks

Into the Cardinals Nest: What will it take to win in 2016?

Last season. The St. Louis Cardinals suffered so many injuries to key players including Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and a few others that there was doubt among many fans as to whether or not the team could make it through without a major collapse. In true Cardinals fashion, they powered through those troubles and made it to the NLDS but injuries and sloppy bullpen management did them in, The Chicago Cubs are the heavy favorites to take the division but with the right adjustments the Cardinals can shock everyone.

KoltenWongOne of the things the Cardinals will need to do is pick up the offense. It has been too often that they have had prime chances to score but they fail to capitalize. The returning Cardinals are a force.  Third baseman Matt Carpenter is a power hitter who had 84 RBI’s and 28 homers to his name last year. Another big part of their successes on offense is attributed to right fielder, Stephen Piscotty, who put forth a solid 39 RBI’s and made an impressive showing in his first season in the majors. Kolten Wong will need to continue to give offense this season as well. He’s a very dangerous hitter with 11 homers, and 61 RBI’s. He also had 38 stolen bases to his name because he has quick speed when it comes to base running.

There are a few new faces to aid the Cardinals this year offensively as well. One of these acquisitions is the former Padre, Jedd Gyorko.  The stat to watch will be his RBI’s. He got 57 of them in his last season as a Padre and the Cardinals will benefit greatly if he can do better than that as the season goes on. New shortstop, Aledmys Diaz might give other teams problems as well. He put together an impressive minor league career with 18 homers and 76 RBI’s. Given enough time to shine, he will be a major player to watch this year.

St-Louis-Cardinals-sign-Korean-pitcher-Seung-Hwan-Oh_4_1Great pitching has been the Cardinals’ bread and butter for a long time. They have a solid group of starters like Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez. They are reliable pitchers who will  do very well as long as they stay injury free. The one starter that really needs improvement is Michael Wacha. He had a solid 2015 where he won 17 out of 24 games but a lot of that was thanks to good offense from the team. One of the biggest boosts in pitching that the Cardinals needed was setting up for their closer, Trevor Rosenthal. Kevin Siegrist being overused was one of the biggest problems the pitching staff had. To fix this, they added Korean player Seung-Hwan-Oh to the lineup. Hopefully his addition will give Siegrist a much-needed rest so that he will do well consistently in big game situations. As for Trevor Rosenthal, the fewer walks he throws, the better off the team will be in terms of wins. A lot of the walks he’s issued in his career have led to runs. While he only issued 25 walks in 2015, there is still room for improvement. The team will need him on his game and very consistent with his pitches going forward.

MLB: NLCS-San Francisco Giants at St. Louis CardinalsThe biggest hurdle the Cardinals will have to overcome will be staying healthy. Right off the bat, they will have to deal with Lance Lynn being out for the season and Yadier Molina being gone at the start while he finishes resting his thumb. Fortunately, Newcomer catchers Brayan Pena and Mike Ohlman give the Cards some much-needed backup behind the plate until he recovers. It is vital that everyone stays as healthy as possible. They need to continue to use call ups effectively if someone does get injured but the Cards cannot afford another injury infested year.

Mike+Matheny+Cincinnati+Reds+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+vu7b7c8QYT6lMike Matheny’s management in 2015 was hit and miss. Some moves that he’s made have turned out okay and others have just left fans scratching their heads and frustrated. It was his mismanagement in the NLDS that cost the Cardinals the NLDS in 2015. In regular season play, his management has not been too much of a problem. He managed his team to over 100 wins last year. It is clearly the postseason that he struggles with. In general, he needs to read the situations at hand a bit better and not leave pitchers in if a game ever gets to where they just don’t have it.

Overall, if the Cardinals really want to make a splash and win another World Series title, they will need consistency, resiliency, and effort from every member of the team. They will need to play their best games yet as the NL Central will definitely be a tougher challenge than last year. Making some deals at the trade deadline won’t hurt either. If the Cardinals play like the well-oiled machine their fan base has come to expect and stay off the disabled list, it will be very difficult for them not to defy the odds yet again,

 

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