Updated: Apr 3
Opening day is finally here for your reigning 2022 National League Central champions, St. Louis Cardinals so I’m here to give you one reason to like every Cardinal that made the initial 26 man roster.
(We won’t be discussing anyone on the injured list so Adam Wainwright and Paul Dejong won’t be mentioned)
Let us get straight to it!
Wilson Contreras- Catcher
The Cardinals big signing this offseason is stepping into big shoes this season taking over for future hall of famer Yadier Molina. Expect a much more consistent offensive bat in the middle of the order with solid defense to complement the gold glove filled defense the Cards have.
Paul Goldschmidt- First base
Last year's NL MVP is looking to come back strong to defend his crown. Goldy may be getting up there in age but expect that power bat with a plus baseball IQ to stick around being the scary hitter pitchers don’t want to face.
Brendan Donovan- Second base
Winning the first ever utility Gold Glove will be hard to replicate but expect Benny to be at the top of the order hitting balls gap to gap with above average speed. Watch out for his helmet though it doesn’t stay on his head often while he’s flying on the base paths.
Tommy Edman- Shortstop
Baseballs most underrated player will be in his second season manning shortstop. Edman will always have his gold glove caliber defense but with him sliding down to the nine hole the batting average will spike up and Tommy 2 bags will truly shine.
Nolan Arenado- Third base
The best third baseman in baseball is back to wow us with his platinum glove defense and will bring the fire regardless whether it’s in his bat and 30 home runs or his heaters he’s throwing to Goldy. Another good season and he will be right back in the MVP conversation.
Tyler O’Neil- Outfield
One down season won’t define the man from up north. With his speed and Peter expect a comeback season from him if he can cut down on the strikeouts and stay healthy while he roams center field in Busch.
Lars Nootbaar- Outfield
Japan's national hero Lars Nootbaar’s breakout season is looming as he is the spark plug of this team. High energy, good defense and a consistent bat is what gives Noot all the value in the world and with all the support he will be vital if the Cards want to “grind the pepper” all the way to the World Series.
Jordan Walker- Outfield
The 20 year old phenom was the biggest surprise making the opening day roster but by having the spring he had it makes all the sense in the world why he made it. The kids going to be average in the field but pitchers should be afraid of his dangerous bat.
Nolan Gorman- Designated hitter
Gorman made huge strides this spring by showing how developed his bat is against both sides of the plate, securing him the DH spot over someone like Juan Yepez. Gorman will be shaky in the field but if a righty is on the mound expect Gorman to mash against them.
Dylan Carlson- Outfield
If not for Walker's crazy spring Dylan would be rightfully in the lineup however with how valuable his defense is to this team along with development in his swing he will be strongly utilized in this lineup.
Alec Burleson- Designated hitter/Outfield
The outfielder out of East Carolina has shown that his bat is one of the best in the system hitting seven extra base hits in the spring to secure his spot, can slide in the lineup to give Goldy a day off whenever needed and won’t be a liability.
Taylor Motter- Utility
Signed as a minor league deal with little expectation Motter shocked us all with his crazy good spring showing an above average bat and the ability to play 6 different positions when needed, the injury to Dejong gave Motter the opportunity so it’ll be interesting to see if he seizes the opportunity.
Andrew Knizner- Catcher
As much of a Kiz supporter I am I was scratching my head when I heard he made the opening day roster with how bad of a spring he had. However, Kiz knows how to handle his pitching staff and with a new catcher in the system like Contreras having someone like Kiz can benefit the team.
Miles Milokas- SP
The Lizard king secured the opening day roster for the second time in his career after a strong outing in the WBC for team USA. If Miles replicates his performance from last year he will be the teams most valuable pitcher.
Jack Flaherty- SP
Injuries have derailed his last few seasons but if Flare can put it all together this season and bring back his 2019 form he will be vital for a deep playoff run and will be a strong #2 behind Milokas.
Jordan Montgomery- SP
Arguably the best trade deadline pickup from last year Monty is coming into his 1st full season as a Cardinal looking to stay as consistent as he was last year and eat up valuable innings for this staff. Look for the southpaw to have an uptick in strikeouts and a low walk rate for success.
Jake Woodford- SP
Woodford came into the spring fighting for a bullpen spot but after Waino going down with an injury the opportunity came up for Woodford to be in the rotation, if he can keep giving the team 5-7 innings of one run ball like he was in the spring he could keep that rotation spot the whole year.
Steven Matz- SP
The dark horse of the rotation, Matz in coming into this season healthy, which shows due to the sub 2 era he rocked all spring. If Matz finds success as the fifth starter and stays healthy this rotation will stay underrated all season.
Ryan Helsley- Closer
An underrated closer is back and healthier than ever with his 102 mph fastball and wipeout slider if he’s in during the 9th batters won’t touch him.
Gio Gallegos- Setup
Gio is coming off a successful WBC for team Mexico where he was on point. Similar to Helsley he has a wipeout slider and curve however his fastball tends to fall flat so if Gio doesn’t overthrow it he will see plenty success in high leverage situations.
Jordan Hicks- Bullpen
Did you know hicks can throw 104 mph? Yeah, neither did I, but If he can do that consistently for strikes and lower his walk problem he will see plenty of success to show off his redefined repertoire.
Andre Pallante- Bullpen
Andre is back for his sophomore season which he was very good, pitched to a sub 4 era but his spring was very hit or miss. He’s throwing his fastball harder but it’s not as consistent as he normally is so pay attention to his movement this year as the season progresses.
Chris Stratton- Bullpen
Stratton came over in the trade with Pittsburgh during the trade deadline he’s purely here to eat innings if we’re up or down by a lot. If he can keep his era in the high 3’s with a low walk per nine no one will complain.
Drew VerHagen- Bullpen
If we weren’t paying him so much money he wouldn’t be in the pen but many cardinals fan including myself judged him off an injury riddled season last year so expectations are low but hopefully he can give us competitive innings this season.
Zack Thompson- Bullpen (lefty)
The Cardinals 2019 first round pick has solidified himself as the go to lefty in the pen this year with a fastball sitting mid 90’s and a wipeout curve expected him to breakout this year.
Packy Naughton- Bullpen (lefty)
Packy didn’t have the best spring by any means but he does bring some filth from the left side and knows how to handle himself under pressure which is something this pen needs. He can also flex into a multi inning role if need be so I fully expect him to be sneaky good for us this year.
Time will only tell if these boys will lead us to the playoffs and on, but this is my reasoning on why you should like every player on the Cardinals opening day roster.
Cover picture courtesy of St. Louis Dispatch