As Cardinals pitchers and catchers are poised to report, we're going to take a first guess at which 25 players will head north to Milwaukee for Opening Day on March 28. Inevitably, injuries and spring performances will necessitate changes, which is why MLB.com will revisit these predictions throughout the course
As Cardinals pitchers and catchers are poised to report, we're going to take a first guess at which 25 players will head north to Milwaukee for Opening Day on March 28. Inevitably, injuries and spring performances will necessitate changes, which is why MLB.com will revisit these predictions throughout the course of Spring Training.
Here's the first take.
Catcher (2):Yadier Molina, Francisco Peña
Molina is in line to make his 15th consecutive Opening Day start for the Cardinals, a mark that would tie Lou Brock's franchise record. He's the only catcher currently on the 40-man roster, which means the Cards will have to add someone as his backup before breaking camp. That someone is likely to be Pena, who returned under a Minor League deal after playing behind Molina in 2018.
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First base (1): Paul Goldschmidt
The marquee acquisition of the Cardinals' offseason, Goldschmidt should offer the club Gold Glove defense at first and that potent bat it has lacked since the decline of Matt Holliday. Goldschmidt has started more than 150 games in five of the last six seasons, so, barring injury, there should be little need for insurance behind him.
Second base (1): Kolten Wong
A Gold Glove candidate a year ago, Wong seems to be among those most energized by last season's managerial change. He should not enter the season facing a platoon possibility, though the Cards could restructure those plans if Wong doesn't generate enough offensively. He'll likely slot into the seventh or eighth spot in the Cardinals' lineup.
Third base (1): Matt Carpenter
One of the first calls the Cardinals made after adding Goldschmidt was to Carpenter, who was asked to vacate first base for the perennial All-Star. He did so gladly. Carpenter is now back at third base, a position at which he has logged more Major League innings than any other. Though some question his defensive capabilities there, Carpenter will at least bring a proven record to the leadoff spot, where he'll serve as the lineup's tablesetter yet again.
Shortstop (1): Paul DeJong
DeJong will seek to meld the offensive success he had in his rookie season with the defensive improvements he made as sophomore shortstop. He should be rid of any effects from last year's hand injury, and that could lead to an uptick in power. DeJong could slot anywhere from third to fifth in the Cardinals' batting order.
Outfield (4): Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, José Martínez
The Cardinals are hopeful Ozuna's surgically repaired right shoulder has him poised for a healthier season as the everyday left fielder. Bader brings elite speed and defensive ability to center following a breakout second half of 2018. Right field remains a point of intrigue, though the Cards are going to give Fowler the first opportunity to reassert himself as a starter there. Martinez will be a ready corner-outfield backup and a particular weapon deployed against left-handed pitchers.
Utility (2): Jedd Gyorko, Drew Robinson
This could be the first time in seven years that Gyorko won't accrue at least 400 at-bats in a season. Yet he will play a key role as a backup across the infield. Robinson can also play all four infield positions, as well as the outfield, and would give the Cards a left-handed bat off the bench. Robinson making the roster would likely eliminate a spot for fellow utilityman Yairo Muñoz.
Starting pitcher (5): Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martínez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright
Though the Cardinals have 10 pitchers vying for five rotation spots, this group has the inside track. Mikolas is in line to draw the Opening Day start, and Martinez is eager to move from the bullpen back into the rotation. Wacha is coming off an oblique injury that cost him half of 2018, while Wainwright postponed retirement for one more try to go out healthy and strong. Flaherty rates among the more exciting young pitchers in the game.
Relief pitcher (8): Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks, Dominic Leone, John Brebbia, Chasen Shreve, Brett Cecil, Mike Mayers, John Gant
The Cards aren't short on bullpen options, even if most roles remain undefined. Miller and Hicks will pair to cover key spots in the late innings. Both should get save opportunities. Leone is seeking a healthy second season in St. Louis, while Brebbia seems to have done enough to avoid the I-55 shuttle between Triple-A Memphis and St. Louis. Shreve and Cecil give the Cards options from the left side, though both have much to prove. Mayers and Gant nab the final two bullpen spots in this projection, mostly because they are out of options. If either is to be pushed out, it'd likely be by Alex Reyes, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber or Daniel Ponce de Leon, all of whom will at least start spring building up as starters.
Once more, here's a look at MLB.com's projected Opening Day roster for the Cardinals as Spring Training begins.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.