In October the world of baseball drooled as the St. Louis Cardinals unleashed their beastly young arms. Both starters and relievers demonstrated why the Cards cannons are a slice above the rest of MLB.
More than Rookies
Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness all had remarkable impacts last season. However, the best rookie performance by a Cardinals pitcher in 2013 was Shelby Miller. During the regular season Miller amassed 15 wins, had a 3.06 ERA, and was considered for the Rookie of the Year award. Nevertheless he was shutdown after being overused (173.1 innings) and giving up a projectile in the NLDS.
After the freshman have an offseason to work, their improvements will be clear. The power pitchers (all but Maness) will have better change-ups to buckle more knees in 2014. Being that all of the above are 25 or younger, it is likely that they still have some room before they reach their lofty ceilings.
The only question about the Redbirds soon to be sophomore slingers is how good they will be next year.
Every group of young players needs elders to look up to and learn from. While many of the wiser ones were banged up last season they are scheduled to return in 2014. But after going under the sword it is difficult to predict what next year will bring for the organization’s experienced pitchers.
Is Adam Wainwright going to be able to shake off an embarrassing World Series and contend for the Cy Young Award again? Will Wainwright be the leader that is needed to guide the younger arms toward continued supremacy?
Lefty Jaime Garcia is returning from shoulder surgery after being out for most of 2013, and he is still expected to have his red glove. But will Jaime have the same stuff on the bump? In 2012 Jaime hit .250, but will he continue to be solid in the 9 spot in 2014?
Joe Kelly was the 2013 second half Cardinals MVP. Kelly’s stout summer and fall transformed him from a guy that lost his spot in the rotation last March to a guy that is favored this March. Will JK be the long man or a starter in 14′?
Lance Lynn, aka Lance Light, looked different but acted the same in 2013. He has not been the team player that his Little League coaches or his MLB manager would like because he is unpredictable. Will LL have the presence in the rotation that he has over the past two seasons? If not, how much longer will he play for the Cardinals?
The pitching in St. Louis that appears stronger than ever has created a rugged sense of confidence for the club. No matter the opposing bat in the box the Birds on the Bat have an answer because of stellar drafts and sound development.
But Yadier Molina is the one man who makes all of the STL hurlers better due to his dominance behind the plate. Without Yadi, these pitchers would have to read more signs, hold runners closer, and worry about passed balls. After a year with countless faces on the hill, it is nice to imagine the success that more consistency will bring in 2014.
*Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!