St. Louis Cardinals Season Preview 2020
With a 60-game season now agreed upon by both the MLB player’s union and the owners, the St. Louis Cardinals finally have a real opening day to look forward to. Despite the shortened length and edited rulebook, Mike Shildt’s club looks ready to make another deep playoff run. However, there are still many questions surrounding the 2020 Redbirds, some complicated even more by these circumstances. How the coaching staff handles these issues could make all the difference in such a compressed 60-game campaign.
The Designated Hitter
With the designated hitter coming to the National League in 2020, more offense is sure to come. How Shildt uses this role remains to be seen, however, as the Cards do not really have a true DH-type hitter. Someone like Matt Adams or Brandon Moss would have fit into this role quite nicely in past years. Without them, however, Shildt will likely use many different bats in that spot.
Matt Carpenter appears to be the leading candidate, which makes sense considering his hitting ability (at least until last season) and Tommy Edman’s superior defense at third base. Shildt could also use this role as a “fourth outfielder” of sorts. With the likely battle between Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas, and possibly Dylan Carlson for playing time, a fourth spot in the lineup would allow Shildt to get more at-bats for everyone.
The rest of the Redbirds lineup will likely look very similar to the 2019 Cardinals season. Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, and Paul DeJong will serve in prominent roles as expected. Edman proved himself as an offensive weapon last season but might not see everyday starts at third base.
According to Derrick Goold, both the managerial staff and front office are more in favor of using Edman as a sort of “super-utility man,” and it seems quite likely that fans will see him everywhere on the diamond besides first base, behind the plate, and on the mound. Veteran Yadier Molina will take the majority of reps behind the plate, with Matt Wieters backing up and the young Andrew Knizner behind him.
The new season agreement will likely have some problems when it comes to positive coronavirus tests and crowded facilities. However, players are reported to camp on July 1st, with Opening Day coming July 24th. Another interesting wrinkle in the agreement was the institution of an August 31st trade deadline. John Mozeliak has never been one to aggressively pursue deadline deals, and that seems even more likely with so much uncertainty this season.
In order to limit travel, each team’s 60-game season will be made up of 40 games against divisional opponents. They will also play 20 against the other league’s geographic counterpart. In short, the Cardinals season will feature 40 games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs. Their interleague play will pit them against the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Chicago White Sox.
Per Jeremy Frank, the Cards have the easiest strength of schedule in the NL based on 2019 records. Their .480 opponent winning percentage ranks 4th-easiest in the majors, and bodes well for their playoff hopes. However, the Reds and White Sox are two teams that appear much-improved from their 2019 roster.
Hardest 2020 Strength of Schedules in NL based on 2019 records
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) June 24, 2020
This St. Louis Cardinals season will certainly be one to remember, whether for events on or off the field. Hopefully, “America’s Pastime” will help bring a wounded nation back towards healing, and provide a positive distraction in such a difficult time.
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