In our Baseball Spotlight St. Louis Cardinals 2021 season preview, we take a look at everything from last season to projections for the 2021 season. Let’s get started!
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best teams in a putrid National League Central Division. The Cardinals won the division in 2019, and they made the postseason in 2020 as a Wild Card team. St. Louis is still reputable, but they are trying to get back to a World Series caliber team.
2021 will not be a year where the Cardinals contend outside of the division, but they could win the National League Central if they play to their capability.
- 2020 Regular Season Record: 30-28 (.517)
- NL Central Finish: 2nd
- Postseason: Lost to Padres in NLWCS
- 2021 Projection: 82-80 (.506)
- NL Central: 2nd
Projected Opening Day Roster
C: Yadier Molina
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Tommy Edman
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Paul DeJong
OF: Tyler O’Neill
OF: Dylan Carlson
OF: Justin Williams
C: Andrew Knizner
IF: John Nogowski, Matt Carpenter, Edmundo Sosa
OF: Austin Dean
RHP: Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Daniel Ponce de Leon, John Gant
RHP: Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley, Jake Woodford
LHP: Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera
Cardinals 2021 Season Preview
The Cardinals are in the hunt for the division title based on their Opening Day roster. However, I still believe they are a step behind the Brewers after Milwaukee added Jackie Bradley Jr. during Spring Training.
The Cardinals are playing to win the division, but this year will also indicate how St. Louis will look in the future. The Cardinals have a strong rotation, good bullpen, and a powerful lineup. They just need a few more pieces to become a true championship contender.
Nolan Arenado joins the lineup in 2021 after he was traded from the Colorado Rockies. Arenado stated his desire to leave Colorado and join a team that has a chance to win. The third baseman has expressed interest in playing for St. Louis for an extended period, and it seems like this is a match made in heaven.
Arenado will add depth and protection to a lineup with an above-average level of power. Arenado is a five-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove, four-time Platinum Glove, and a four-time Silver Slugger.
Arenado should add close to thirty home runs with an on-base percentage of .350. Paul Goldschmidt will be thrilled with the addition of Arenado because it will force pitchers to give him pitches in the zone.
Goldy does not have the same pop that he had in Arizona, but the first baseman is still one of the best hitters in baseball. He hit over 33 home runs per season from 2017 to 2019. He still has the capability to hit 30 bombs in his age-33 season.
Tyler O’Neill will lead the bottom of the order. O’Neill has not played an entire season in the big leagues, but he should be better than he was in the 50 games he played last season.
If O’Neill can produce at the bottom of the order and generate over a .300 on-base percentage, it should help Goldy, Arenado, and Paul DeJong at the top of the lineup.
The Pitching Staff
St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty struggled in 2021. He threw 40 innings and collected a 4.94 ERA. The former first-round pick is much better than the work he showed last season.
Flaherty should return to his Cy Young caliber level in 2021. In 2019, he finished fourth in voting for the award given to the league’s best pitcher.
Flaherty struck out 231 batters in 196 innings and totaled a 2.75 ERA in 2019. Adam Wainwright is the number two on the Cardinals staff. I am scared of Wainwright’s ability to produce because he is entering his age-39 season.
Wainwright pitched well last year, and he has been dominant in Spring Training, but you never know how a pitcher will perform as he approaches the age of 40.
Giovanny Gallegos will get the ball in the late innings of games. I think Gallegos is a gem, but this will be his first full season as a closer. He was four for four with his save opportunities in 2020, so look for him to transition to this role over 162 games successfully.
Tanner’s Projection: 82-80
The Cardinals could win the division, but if they are lucky enough to get into the playoffs, they will have an early exit.
MORE FROM BASEBALL SPOTLIGHT: If you enjoyed our Cardinals 2021 season preview, be sure and check out all of our MLB team and division previews before the 2021 season’s first pitch is thrown!
Baseball Spotlight’s MLB 2021 Season Team Previews
Baseball Spotlight’s MLB Division Preview Series