St. Louis Cardinals Preseason Roster Predictions Part 5
1 — Adam Wainwright: After missing nearly the entire season last year due to a torn Achilles tendon, Adam Wainwright is back, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. He’s already been announced as the opening day starter, and that’s an honor he has more than earned. Be very excited that a healthy Waino will anchor the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation in 2016.
2 — Carlos Martinez: There are some who would say that Carlos Martinez isn’t, or perhaps shouldn’t be the number two starter. And I won’t quibble too much about where he actually ranks in the rotation, but I will say this: Martinez is the second best starter on the staff right now. He has a chance of being the best within a year or two.
Don’t believe me? Well, Carlos started 29 games last year. In three of them, he allowed more than five earned runs. In the 26 other starts? He posted a 2.23 ERA and gave up fewer than 2 runs in half of those starts, including six shutouts. I’m betting on some improvement from the 24-year-old in 2016, so I want him slotted to start the second game, and I think he has a good chance of being put there by Mike Matheny.
3 — Jaime Garcia: The Glass Man (as he is known) isn’t ever a sure thing, but if he can stay healthy, Jaime Garcia has a chance to be one of the best number 3 starters around. He has consistently shown that he is a good starting pitcher when he’s pitching, and last year was no exception. After a very good 2015, the Cardinals executed his option — something almost unimaginable this time last year. Now he’ll have a chance to impress again, and I don’t think he’ll miss out.
While it’s possible he could edge out Martinez for the number two slot, I think he’ll ultimately find himself starting the third game of the season for our Redbirds.
4 — Michael Wacha: It’s hard to believe that Michael Wacha is only 24 years old. It seems like it was so long ago when he burst onto the scene in the 2013 playoffs, and part of that may be that his performance just hasn’t been the same since. If he’d kept it up, he’d be in a conversation for one of the top spots in the rotation. As it is, he’ll more than likely wind up in the back end of a very strong rotation.
Now don’t get me wrong, Wacha is a good, successful pitcher, but when you’re part of a starting five that includes Waino, El Gallo, and Jaime, it can be hard to catch a break. So I’ll be happy to see him occupy the number four slot.
5 — Mike Leake: To be honest, I’m not at all convinced that Mike Leake will actually be the St. Louis Cardinals’ fifth starter. It’s not that I think he’s good enough to be any higher, I just doubt that the Cardinals will slot $80 million dollars that far back in the rotation. Also, as we’ve explored, Matheny likes his “veteran” players, and I’d be surprised if someone with as much experience as Leake could wind up this far down in a rotation set by Mike.
That said, I just can’t stomach putting him any higher, so I’m not going to. Regardless of what the depth chart says on opening day, he will be the fifth starter in my mind.
Next: The Bullpen