On Deck: The Cardinals

On+Deck%3A+The+Cardinals

Reece Candler , Staff Writer

The St. Louis Cardinals began their season on Sunday with a spring training game against the Washington Nationals, and with this comes a renewed sense of hope. For the first time, Nolan Arenado suited up for the Birds on the Bat. Going into this new season, the Cardinals still have several questions. Whether the offense will be able to produce, whether several injured pitchers can return to form, will Carlson be productive as a rookie, and will anyone establish themselves in the outfield? In 2020, the Cardinals’ offense was one of the worst in baseball. They were bottom ten in the MLB in AVG. and OPS., bottom five in SLG., and dead last in home runs. Will Nolan Arenado be able to fix these woes on offense. He has finished with five straight top eight MVP finishes from 2015-2019, has won four Silver Sluggers, and a career 120 OPS+. Hopefully, Arenado’s bat can help the Cardinals make a deep run. Along with Arenado, another player the Cardinals hope can bring some life to their offense is Dylan Carlson, the number prospect in the Cardinals system. After a slow start in 2020 and being sent down to Springfield for a reset, Carlson finished 2020 strong. If the Cardinals want to succeed and make a deep postseason run, Carlson will have to perform like the top prospect he is. For the Cardinals, Carlson is part of a bigger problem: Who will be their primary outfielders? The Cardinals have struggled in the outfield the last couple of seasons. The Cardinals have several options in the OF. Players like Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, and Justin Williams will have an opportunity to prove themselves. Finally, the Cardinals have several key pitchers returning from injury and do not know how they will perform. Jordan Hicks, Miles Mikolas, and Carlos Martinez will all be returning from injuries and will have to provide innings for the Redbirds. For Hicks, the question will be whether Hicks will be able to return to his fireballing ways and remain a dominant force out of the pen. For Mikolas and Martinez, the question will be whether they can return to their former All-Star ways. All of these questions will be key to the 2021 Cardinals and whether they can possibly make a deep run. The season should be tremendously fun and I am so excited to see how it plays.