My Prediction: Diaz and Co. give the Cards enough at shortstop, hand the keys back to Peralta for another NL Central run
While I don’t expect Diaz to light the world on fire or to be an all-star in his first season with the big club, I do think that he makes the Opening Day roster out of camp. He may not start on Opening Day, but thanks to a stellar spring, he will see plenty of opportunities before Peralta’s return.
I like Diaz for a lot of starts at shortstop against left-handed pitching, with Gyorko sliding over to second base to spell Kolten Wong. Likewise, Diaz is a good candidate to see time at third base whenever Matt Carpenter needs a break.
I expect a very solid defensive effort from Diaz, and think that he will do enough with the bat to stay in the lineup on a fairly routine basis.
The Cardinals are going to miss Peralta’s presence in the lineup, but I definitely think that Diaz and Gyorko together can do enough to keep the club where it needs to be.
Assuming that Peralta returns some time in mid-to-late June, I like Diaz for five or six home runs and an OBP in the .340’s.
I think that double digit home runs for Gyorko through the first couple of months is a definite possibility, although I am wary of the strikeout and potential for a low OBP.
In the end, I think that Cardinal replacement shortstops will be solid enough to remove any temptation to hurry Peralta’s recovery process.
With just a 3-4 month season ahead of him after his return, the Cardinals will be able let Peralta go out there without too much concern for rest.
If there was ever a good time for Peralta to go down, now is it. So long as Diaz and Gyorko can keep things afloat, the Cardinals and Peralta should be in a good position as they move through the mid-summer months and into stretch-run time.