By: Kennedy Maitland
The St. Louis Cardinals and “The Greatest Fans in Baseball” officially have a season to look forward to, even though it will be quite different than anything we have seen in the past. With a 60 game season starting in a few short weeks, there are some adjustments to be made and learning curves to overcome for the Cardinals organization. With summer camp beginning at Busch Stadium this past week, it is clear that the players have put in the work during their “time off” and the Cardinals are looking to make a run deep into the playoffs this unprecedented season.
Changes to the 2020 Season
A 60 game schedule was part of the agreement made between the MLB Player’s Union and the owners. Along with the new, shortened schedule came the DH role to the National League. This is one obstacle the Cardinals have to face, as they are used to the pitcher being at the plate. As of now, it is up in the air on how Mike Schildt will fill this role. The Cardinals do not have a player that stands out to fill the DH role. With this being the case, it is expected to see a few different Cardinals filling this spot over the season.
Matt Carpenter is a top contender for DH. With last season being a bit on an outlier, Carpenter’s offense has been quite notable. No Cardinals fan could forget when he went 5-5 against the Cubs in 2018; the same season where his motto was “it’s gotta be the salsa.” Carpenter’s possibility to be the DH is even stronger since Tommy Edman has excelled at third base. The Cardinals also have a very crowded outfield that they could pull from for a DH role.
7 outfielders are on the summer camp roster. Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, and possibly Dylan Carlson are most likely those who will get to play in the outfield. The “vet” among them, Dexter Fowler, would probably be the most likely to fill DH. He had an impressive offensive performance in 2019, and his defense wouldn’t necessarily be missed with the other young talent in the organization.
It seems that more Cardinals pitchers have ended up on the IL more than any other position recently. Jordan Hicks underwent Tommy John surgery late last June. His rehab progress has shown that he could very possibly be ready to go by opening night. With the pushed back season, Hicks will most likely be able to participate in the first game where he wouldn’t have been able to back in March.
Miles Mikolas suffered a right flexor tendon strain in March. He was set to miss the beginning of the season, that is when the season was going to start on time. Mikolas has said he is healthy for the start of the season. Mikolas is a key component in the rotation, especially after the Cardinals lost right-handed starter Michael Wacha to the Mets.
Throughout this past spring, John Brebbia had been experiencing pain in his right elbow. Unfortunately, this pain led to him recently undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now, no one will see Brebbia make an appearance on the mound until, hopefully, next summer. Brebbia was a crucial contributor in the Cardinals bullpen. Pitching coach Mike Maddux will have to adjust slightly without the contribution of Brebbia.
It is the unfortunate reality that some players will probably test positive for COVID-19 and be out for a period of time throughout the season. Three Cardinals players have already tested positive during the time at summer camp. This has resulted in some roster changes. So far, the Cardinals have brought up three pitchers, Zach Thompson, Rob Kaminsky, and Seth Elledge, to fill the spots of those in isolation. Although these guys are expected to return back to Double-A in Springfield, we will most likely see a good amount of young talent from lower down in the organization this season.
Between players who potentially fall ill and a very conscious effort to keep everyone healthy, there will be a good amount of cycling going on between the majors and minors. Looking at it optimistically, we will get a showcase of all the talent in store for the coming seasons!
In an effort to reduce long distance travel, the baseball schedule for the 2020 season was strategically planned out. Each team will be playing 40 of the 60 games against divisional opponents. The remainder of games will be played against the other leagues geographical counterparts. This being said, the Cardinals will face the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers. According to Jeremy Frank, the Cardinals have the easiest strength of schedules in the National league. This should be good news, however, the White Sox and Reds seem to be bigger threats than they were last year.
The Cardinals signed Korean left-handed pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim in the off-season. Kim has proven to be a steller pitcher over his 12 years in Korea. With the signing of Kim, that puts six pitchers in the pool for the starting rotation: Flaherty, Wainwright, Hudson, Mikolas, Martinez, and Kim. Based on past rotations, Martinez and Kim are in the running for the final spot. Carlos Martinez has expressed interest in a bullpen position. With that being said, Kim may be part of the Cardinals rotation his first year playing baseball in America.
The St. Louis Cardinals get to face the Chicago White Sox in the Field of Dreams game. The White Sox were originally supposed to play the Yankees, but due to travel limitations, the Cardinals are now participating. I guess it pays to be in the Midwest!
BASEBALL IS BACK, and the Cardinals are more than ready!