Happy 2018 everyone. It’s been a while since the Cardinals won a playoff game, and it’s been even longer since they won a playoff series—not Buffalo Bills long—but this year will offer a new start. Hope everyone is doing well after last night. Here’s what I’m hoping to see in 2018.
One more big move this offseason
I realize that Marcell Ozuna is a big move for the Cardinals and should do a very good job improving the Cardinals offense over their solid lineup from last season, but I would like to see one more big move. I don’t know if that move is Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, or Chris Archer, but I’d like to see the Cardinals make one more game-changing move for the upcoming season, and I don’t want it to be a reliever, which leads to the next one...
Tyler Lyons closing games
Last season, Tyler Lyons posted a sub-3 FIP and ERA and was 33% better than league-average in both figures by ERA- and FIP- which account for league and park factors. The relievers in the National League (minimum 50 IP) who bested both figures were Raisel Iglesias, Archie Bradley, Felipe Rivero, Corey Knebel, Pat Neshek, and Kenley Jansen. Lyons struck out more than 30% of batters and walked under 10%, joined in the NL by only Iglesias, Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, and Kenley Jansen.
Lyons was very quietly one of the best relievers in the NL last season. He’s a lefty, but he’s adept at getting both lefties and righties out. He’s not needed as the lefty out of the bullpen given the presence of Brett Cecil, and it isn’t worth going out and paying or trading for a pitcher to close out games when you have someone perfectly capable of doing so already on the staff.
Twenty starts from Alex Reyes
If the season started today, the rotation would likely be Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and Miles Mikolas. We don’t yet know exactly what the role of Alex Reyes will be in 2018, and the Cardinals might ease him into game action given a year off—not that he actually took the year off work-wise—but it would be great to see Reyes get an extended run in the rotation this season.
I wouldn’t wish ineffectiveness or injury on anyone, but the odds say it is going to happen. When it does, I hope Reyes gets the opportunity to show what he can do in the rotation. I am concerned that Reyes will be put in the bullpen, perform very well there, and then when a spot in the rotation does open up, he is kept from the spot that could potentially maximize his value and make him a star.
Repeats from Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong
I think part of the perception regarding the lack of offense for the Cardinals is due to a relative lack of big production from expected or hopeful sources. Matt Carpenter was merely good. Jedd Gyorko is above average, but Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk couldn’t quite cut it in the corners. That’s four traditionally potent offensive positions without a standout which tends to drag down perception.
On the other side of it, the Cardinals best offensive player and one of the very best offensive players in baseball last season wasn’t on the roster at the beginning of the year. Tommy Pham was truly great last season, and he helped carry the offense. Paul DeJong, the Cardinals second-best position player last year, wasn’t expected to play a big role, either.
Last season, the team hoped for continued progress from Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty. They didn’t get it and it left the team scrambling. Fortunately, Pham and DeJong stepped up. If the Cardinals can avoid that situation this year, and get good production from Pham and DeJong, it would go a long way to having one of the best offenses in the league.
Make the Playoffs
Please, just make the playoffs.
What do you want to see this year?