Today’s content will be briefer as I was dealing with a personal matter this past week, but I still wanted to share some quick thoughts about the team’s first ten games. After another grueling loss at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, the Cardinals now sit at 3-7 and face an early four-game deficit in the NL Central division. With clear obstacles needed to be overcome, let’s break down some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from the new campaign.
Any discussion about the young utility threat begins with his improved power output. It wasn’t long before Brendan set a personal-best 109.1 MPH max exit velocity in the first game of the season.
Donovan has been much more aggressive at the plate, elevating his swing percentage from 37% to 44% this year. From an approach perspective, he’s struggled to consistently lift the ball and take full advantage of his newfound juice (6° average LA), but Brendan should get more comfortable as the season progresses. He’s shown plenty of patience in the past and is perfectly capable of tweaking his approach and has the potential to smack 20 HR as a middle infielder.
It’s been a historic debut for the Cardinals’ consensus top prospect. Walker has notched a hit in each of the Cardinals’ first ten games while posting a .410 wOBA.
Jordan’s raw power has carried his early offensive production despite a less-than-stellar contact profile. He’s running an eye-watering 39.5% chase rate on an aggressive 54.1% swing percentage, while only registering one free pass through his first 41 plate appearances. Lingering bat path issues from the minors have also haunted him at the big league level, as he’s struggled to consistently generate enough lift to tap into his 80-grade raw power.
Defensively, the move to the grass will come with some more growing pains than initially anticipated. He still needs time to work on his reads and jumps, as his movements at the 9 are anything but fluid at this point; Walker currently ranks in the 21st percentile in outfield OAA. It’s an overall profile that leaves little margin for error but should carry a higher floor due to his gargantuan power potential.
Say what you want about his early 9.64 ERA. Mikolas’s early ability to miss bats is something we haven’t seen in his career thus far. His 10.6% induction of swinging strikes is a promising indicator that he’s been electric although unfortunate enough to partake in some tough plays that didn’t fall in the team’s favor.
Miles’s command in 2023 has been good, but not great. One of the best in baseball at consistently throwing strikes, he’s registered a mere 2% BB rate while improving his overall HR/FB ratio through a small sample size. He’s had to labor through his two starts, as Miles has only lasted an average of 4.2 IP per start.
With a thin rotation in 2023, the Lizard King will have to step up from his usual mid-rotation role to become the ace of a team vying to repeat as NL Central Champions. He’ll take the bump tonight as the Redbirds attempt to curb their early-season woes.
It is clear that starting pitching is a dire need for the team, with no true ace on the staff and Adam Wainwright still on the injured list. In the meantime, the front office could pivot towards the farm for relief, with options such as Matthew Liberatore and Dakota Hudson awaiting their 2023 debuts. Offensively, I still believe that the Cardinals enjoy one of the most prolific offenses in baseball, and their overall production will progress closer to the projected mean as the season progresses. It’ll be interesting to see what overhauls Oli Marmol and his staff make to a team with plenty of uncertainties to begin 2023.