With Opening Day in Cincinnati just 5 days away, Adam Wainwright made his final start of spring training. Wainwright went 5 innings and got the win against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. He allowed 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 runs, and tallied 6 strikeouts while throwing 80 pitches (58 for strikes). This start left him with a 1.59 ERA for the spring.
Adam Wainwright has looked sharp all spring long. I know most people say spring numbers don’t matter, but this has to be seen as a positive. His strikeout to walk ratio has been off the charts at 18 to 1. He has shown command of all his pitches and has been very efficient as well. He finished the spring with 15.1 consecutive scoreless innings. Clearly it is far too early (I mean, the season hasn’t even started yet!) to begin naming him has a possible Cy Young Award Winner, but these numbers seem like a positive sign. Plus, he is perennially a Cy Young candidate.
With this talk of Wainwright potentially winning the Cy Young in 2014, let’s take a look at which Cardinals players have chances of bringing home some hardware at the end of the season:
NL Rookie of the Year
Kolten Wong has seemingly endless potential. He started off very cold this spring, but rebounded nicely. If he can tap in to some of that potential and continue these spring numbers (.391 avg, 9 RBI, 8 extra base hits), he has a great shot at winning NL ROY. However, he might have to compete with some teammates. If Oscar Taveras can get healthy and earn the right to play in the big leagues, his bat could easily put him in to consideration for the award. A lot of this will depend on the amount of playing time he will, or won’t, see this season. The same thing could be said about Stephen Piscotty. This kid turned some heads in spring training with his .324 average, 0.963 OPS, and his flashy defense. It seems as though he will get the majority of his playing time in Memphis this season. Maybe 2015 will be his year to win NL ROY.
NL Cy Young
Adam Wainwright, as discussed before is clearly the favorite from the Cardinals to win this award. He has been in contention in 2009, ’10, and ’13. All 3 of those years I thought he deserved to win, though it was hard to argue against Clayton Kershaw winning it last year. Will Kershaw be as dominant again this year? Or will this finally be the year Waino breaks through to win it?
Yadier Molina has been in contention the past 2 seasons to win MVP. He was deserving both of those years too. I personally (yes, I am biased) think he should have won it both years over Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen. He is undoubtedly the best backstop in the game with his 6 consecutive Gold Gloves. He has also become a serious threat offensively as he won his first Silver Slugger last season.
Molina, obviously. Matt Carpenter has a chance as he has been working very hard with Jose Oquendo on defense. Now that he is back at third base, his natural position, he might have a better chance than he did at second base last year where he was defensively impressive. Peter Bourjos, if he can stay healthy, has the potential to win a gold glove. Beating Carlos Gomez could be quite the challenge. Wainwright won it last year, and I see no reason why he can’t do it again.
The entire lineup…just kidding, but that would be awesome. Molina can and should win it again. Carpenter will have his work cut out for him now that he is at third base rather than second. If his work that he has been putting in pays off, he could be a repeat winner. Allen Craig also has a shot in the outfield, though his playing time at first base might affect this.
Let’s go ahead and pick divisional winners and wild card teams as well. I really don’t see much change this season from last. The Cardinals are the front runners again in the NL Central. Also, the Los Angeles Dodgers, with their high power line up and pitching staff, will likely win the NL West. In the East I see the Washington Nationals coming out on top as the Atlanta Braves are battling injuries to much of their pitching staff. However, I think the Braves have a shot at being one of the wild cards. The other wild card will likely be the Pittsburgh Pirates yet again. I think they will out duel the Cincinnati Reds due to the Reds injury bug.
Feel free to agree or disagree with me on all of these “predictions.” Chances are I will be way off. A few friends and I have been making these predictions for the past several years. I think we average about 40% correct each year. I guess that is what makes watching this game so much fun.
Thanks for reading.
Bonus: David Aardsma got to pitch today for the first time as a Cardinal. He relieved Wainwright and pitched a scoreless frame with one strike out, but allowed one walk.