St. Louis Cardinals 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL Central?

For years, the Cardinals have been guided by past championships that set expectations for future contention. A new force steered them into the coming season: the present — and its demand to win. “We realize the importance of 2019,” says John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. “I’ve always been one for the longer-term decision making. But we’re trying to win now.”


The Cardinals landed their desired blockbuster hitter in a trade for Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt. The six-time All-Star has one year remaining on his contract, as does cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna, last winter’s big-bat addition. Include Matt Carpenter’s team option for 2020, and the Cardinals’ top three hitters could all walk by season’s end. Franchise favorites Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright near the end of their contracts as well, adding to the Cardinals’ emphasis on immediacy and a sprint for the division title. The push is on to punctuate this era with a return to October.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals logo“For me, Paul Goldschmidt makes the Cardinals the favorites in the Central division. He’s just that good — an excellent defender, power to all fields, a consummate pro. Yadier Molina is still a wizard behind the plate, and Harrison Bader really lit a fire under that team in the second half. He believes he can catch everything in center field, and he’s a joy to watch. Matt Carpenter doesn’t have much range at third base, but he’s so valuable with the bat that you can live with it. I wouldn’t bet on a comeback by Dexter Fowler — but I wouldn’t bet against it, either. He’s only 32, and word is that he’s in a great frame of mind again. While I’d like to see a little more certainty from that rotation, these guys should be good enough. Miles Mikolas gives up a lot of hits, but that’s just because he’s aggressive, which I love; the guy never walks anyone. The big question is whether one of the young arms can join him at the top of that rotation — my bet is Daniel 
Poncedeleon; he’s got a great arm and really good stuff.”


Beyond the Box Score

The Martian The nickname that Yadier Molina has embraced, “El Marciano,” was given to him because his ability at baseball’s most demanding position seemed “out of this world.” In 2018, he took strides into history. Molina’s 1,773 starts at catcher rank 10th all time, and he set a record for catchers older than 35 by starting 27 consecutive games. He surpassed Johnny Bench for innings caught (14,489) and will soon eclipse Brad Ausmus’ 15,840.2 innings to move into the top 10 all time.


Want more? Our new baseball magazine delivers full MLB team previews, fantasy insight, schedules, and predictions. Click to order your copy today or visit your local newsstand!
Organization Man Originally hired as a scout, Mike Shildt made a deal with Cardinals management. He wanted to try coaching, and if it didn’t work, “send me home.” They never did. They nurtured him like a prospect — only at manager. His youth with Baltimore and his career with the Cardinals, which included managing stints at three different minor league levels, gave him an appreciation of an organizational ethos, or “way.” Shildt carries a replica of Cardinals coaching icon George Kissell’s notebook, and the first question he reads in it every day is, “Are you an organization man?”


3-2-1 Contact For the first time ever, the Cardinals had more strikeouts (1,380) than hits (1,369) and continued to see a slow decline in their on-base percentage. Enter Jeff Albert. The Cardinals’ new hitting coach brings an analytically and technologically driven approach, one that prioritizes contact and strike zone management.


Salsa Sensation While Matt Carpenter was on a road trip, Adam Wainwright built a surprise garden at his teammate’s home, complete with all the ingredients needed for homemade salsa. Carpenter then raced into the NL MVP conversation and toward a career-high 36 homers. When he first took a jar of salsa on the road, he had arguably the greatest offensive game by a Cardinal, hitting three homers and two doubles at Wrigley Field on July 20. The salsa launched a T-shirt (“It’s Gotta Be the Salsa”), local sales of the salsa and a Christmas sweater (“Salsa Claus”).


Ankiel, Act 3 Fourteen years after he retired his curveball and reinvented himself as a slugging outfielder, Rick Ankiel seeks a third act in baseball. During an exhibition game this past fall, Ankiel pitched for the first time since 2004 and flashed an 89-mph fastball. Sporting the same “snap dragon” curve that made him a sensation at 19, the 39-year-old Ankiel mused about a return as a lefty reliever. Elbow surgery will delay his comeback until midseason, but the Cardinals will be waiting with a minor league contract. 


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

3B  Matt Carpenter (L)
1B  Paul Goldschmidt (R)
SS  Paul DeJong (R)
LF  Marcell Ozuna (R)
RF  Dexter Fowler (S)
C   Yadier Molina (R)
2B  Kolten Wong (L)
CF  Harrison Bader (R)

 

BENCH

OF  Tyler O’Neill (R)
OF/1B  Jose Martinez (R)
UT   Jedd Gyorko (R)
C    Andrew Knizner (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP  Miles Mikolas
RHP  Jack Flaherty 
RHP  Carlos Martinez
RHP  Michael Wacha
LHP  Austin Gomber

 

BULLPEN

LHP  Andrew Miller (C)
RHP  Jordan Hicks 
RHP  Adam Wainwright
LHP  Brett Cecil
RHP  John Gant
LHP  Chasen Shreve
RHP  Dakota Hudson
RHP  Dominic Leone

 

2019 PREDICTION

1st NL Central 

Include in Acu Data Feed: 
Exclude from Acu-data Feed

More Stories: