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What to Watch the Rest of the Season

The Cardinals may not be contending this year, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the season is unwatchable.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

You may have seen or heard that the St. Louis Cardinals season is basically over. You may think that yourself. And while that is true for all intents and purposes, I don’t agree with that phrasing. The Cardinals season is not over. There are still games to be played, 49 to be exact, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

It’s frustrating to watch the Cardinals lose game after game but baseball is better than no baseball. I may not catch every game at this point in the season and I’m certainly not as invested in the games as I would be if the Cardinals were chasing a playoff spot, but come December or January, when I haven’t watched (Major League) baseball for months, I’ll wish I could turn on the game in the evenings.

I’ll probably still be watching baseball in December and January because I’m one of those weirdos that watching Dominican Winter League baseball and the Caribbean Series but nothing satisfies my baseball craving like the Cardinals. So I won’t be taking these last 49 games for granted, even if the Cardinals aren’t winning games.

The trick is finding things to watch within the games themselves. It’s about finding things to pay attention to besides the outcome of the game. It’s always nice to see the Cardinals winning but, at this point, I’m more of a casual observer of the scoreline and a much more intense observer of other storylines. So, what are those other storylines?

Let’s dive in.

The Race to 200 Wins

We all know it’s happening but this is still worth a mention. Adam Wainwright is currently sitting at 198 wins in his career, needing just 2 more to reach the famous milestone that is 200 wins.

So does it matter if Adam Wainwright pitches well? No. Not as long as he pitches 5 innings and the bats come alive for him. I guess this storyline means that you are invested in the Cardinals winning the game, but it’s less about worrying which team gets the win and more about worrying which player gets it. The Cardinals winning the game is just a secondary and necessary downstream rooting interest.

That’s not to say that that I, personally, don’t care about the Cardinals winning games. I do still prefer winning to losing but I care more about Adam Wainwright reaching this traditional baseball milestone as a feather in the cap to his excellent career.

Preview Next Year’s Team

Adam Wainwright can only chase down 200 wins once every five games. What am I watching for in the other games? I’m looking to see who can win roles on next year’s team. That means I’m watching for guys like JoJo Romero, who has really asserted himself as the top lefty in the bullpen in recent weeks. It means that I’m watching to see if Matthew Liberatore can make some needed adjustments to solidify his spot, and his role, on next year’s team (if he has one).

There are plenty of examples here with players already on the roster but that’s only half the story. Ivan Herrera is currently in Triple-A but he’s in his last option year and is probably good enough to work in tandem with Willson Contreras next year. Will he get a chance to show what he can do, and if/when he does, how will he play? I’m looking forward to finding out.

How will Masyn Winn fare when he makes his debut? And, beyond that, regardless of how well he plays, it’s all but guaranteed that he’ll make at least a few highlight reel plays. I’m watching for those. This is a young and exciting shortstop prospect who will likely have a big role in the coming years. Even if this year’s team isn’t winning many games, Masyn Winn gives us a great reason to tune in and stay invested. And then there’s Luken Baker, the minor league home run leader. Will he get a shot in St. Louis down the stretch, and, if so, how does he handle it?

Beyond Herrera, Winn, and Baker there could be plenty of other prospects to watch in the coming months. Michael McGreevy comes to mind here. Maybe Gordon Graceffo, Drew Rom, Cesar Prieto, Moises Gomez Nick Dunn or anyone else may get the chance to debut and if they do, I know I’ll be watching.

Discover Next Year’s Outfield

The Cardinals have had outfield questions all season but 2 names are all but written down in pen for next year’s lineup - Jordan Walker and Lars Nootbaar. Who will take the third spot? That seems to be a battle between Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill but Alec Burleson has been hot recently, posting a 175 wRC+ in 51 plate appearances since the All-Star break.

I don’t imagine Burleson will earn a starting role in the outfield next year but his batted ball results are starting to match his expected numbers and it’s great to see. It’s much more likely that Tyler O’Neill, who has been hot himself, or Dylan Carlson will be the third man in the outfield next season.

It’s hard not to consider the rest of this season a tryout for next year’s team and I, for one, am excited to see which player takes the opportunity and runs with it. Or, even better, I’m excited to see if both players can play better in the second half than they did in the first half. That would put the Cardinals in the enviable position of choosing a starter for next year and also having a player with a fair amount of trade value in the offseason.

The outfield situation will be a fun one to watch.

The Cool Moments in Baseball

Baseball isn’t always predictable. That’s painfully clear when considering this Cardinals season. You can watch for Adam Wainwright, you can watch for prospects, you can watch to see players compete for roles, but you can also watch simply because baseball is fun.

For instance, who would have predicted that Zack Thompson would shove against Colorado? Earlier this season, he went down to Triple-A to get another chance at starting and promptly put up an 8.65 ERA in 11 outings. Yet when he was called to make his first start of the year in a bullpen game, he went four innings and fanned 8. That was unexpected. And that’s baseball. That’s what makes each game of a 162 game season so fun.

Who knows what will happen the rest of the season but it’s oftentimes the little, individual moments that stick with long after you forget the result of the game.

The Minor Leagues

Even with all of these reasons to watch the rest of the Cardinals’ season, if you still can’t bring yourself to pay attention to a last-placed team, perhaps it’s worth trying out the minor league broadcasts. As someone who frequently watches the Memphis, Springfield, and Peoria games (unfortunately, not the Palm Beach games since they’re only televised on road games against St. Lucie), I highly recommend them.

If prospects are your thing, you get access to minor league broadcasts with your MLB TV account (if you have one). That means you can watch Adam Kloffenstein, Sem Robberse, Thomas Saggese, Tekoah Roby, and all the other prospects the Cardinals acquired at the trade deadline. It also means you can watch Masyn Winn before he gets to St. Louis and maybe catch some Michael McGreevy or Gordon Graceffo starts as well.

It also means you can watch a different team play every night while still being connected to the Cardinals. If you do want to watch the Palm Beach Cardinals, and the 2023 draft class in particular, this week is the last week you can do so as they will be playing St. Lucie for the final time this season.


These are my reasons to watch the rest of the Cardinals season. I won’t lie, though, I’ll likely be much more invested in the Cardinals minor league teams to finish out the year. That doesn’t mean I won’t be watching every Adam Wainwright start or every prospect making a debut, though.

Just because the Cardinals are in last place this year, doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to watch; the reasons might just be a little different.

Thanks for reading, VEB. Let me know what you’ll be watching for in these next 49 games. Have a fantastic Tuesday.