St. Louis Cardinals: Christmas Wish List for the 2017 Season

Oct 2, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) salutes the fans after the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 10-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) salutes the fans after the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 10-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals
Apr 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (left) uses a towel to wave air on pitcher Adam Wainwright in the dugout after hitting three run triple in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Starting Pitchers

This wish would mean more than it seems for the St. Louis Cardinals. Starting on Opening Day has been a traditional honor given to the team’s “ace” or their best pitcher. Carlos Martinez is the best pitcher on this Redbirds staff and he deserves to be given this opportunity and honor. Although, many may claim that Adam Wainwright should be the Opening Day starter after his history with the Cardinals and how he has been the ace of this staff for some time.

But, starting on Opening Day has a bit more meaning behind it. First of all, the Cardinals open their season against the Chicago Cubs so sending out the best pitcher to start the season off right is the only option. Secondly, Martinez, as the ace, should eclipse 200 innings in 2017. He’s yet to do that in his career and got close in 2016 after pitching 195.1 innings. Putting him out on Opening Day solidifies him as the “ace” of the staff and sets the tone for the entire 2017 season.

Lance Lynn has been a huge part of the St. Louis Cardinals success in recent seasons. Last year, he missed the entire season due to Tommy John Surgery and his rehabilitation. The organization filled his rotation spot by signing Mike Leake. Lynn’s absence was incredibly noticeable considering he usually pitches 200 innings and maintains an ERA under 4.00. That would have been a significant upgrade over almost anyone on the team.

Furthermore, Lynn is a “gamer.” He’s competitive, fiery, and has experience in some big moments. The Cardinals seemed to lack a lot of personality last season and his return could help bring that back. Also, with players like Holliday and Moss not returning, there is a lack of veteran leadership which is a void he can help fill. Lynn has been taken for granted by a lot of fans but they’ll realize how much they missed him if he is back to his normal self for 2017.

  • Mike Leake gets a ground ball % of 50.0 or higher.

Many fans were not happy with the Mike Leake signing during the 2016 offseason. Many more fans were not happy after seeing him pitch in 2016. However, there are a lot of reasons to remain hopeful and they all link back to his ground ball rates. Leake is a pitch-to-contact type pitcher and getting ground balls is his bread-and-butter but with a horrendous defense behind him like in 2016, there wasn’t much hope for him being successful.

In 2017, the story should change though and Leake should find success with an improved infield. Over the past 3 seasons, Leake has averaged a ground ball rate around 53% and last season he posted a career high at 53.7%. He also posted a career low in BB/9 (1.53) and a career high in K/9 (6.37). If he can maintain a high ground ball rate, he should be able to build off those other improvements and find success. His win-loss rate didn’t show it, but there was a lot to be happy about.

Related Story: Trevor Rosenthal should be a Starter

Michael Wacha has been one of the bigger disappointments for the St. Louis Cardinals and many wished that he would be traded but some also wished he would stay. Right now, it looks as though he is going to stay and the wish has to be that he is healthy. Wacha suffers from a shoulder issue that is incredibly difficult to treat and the fix is relatively unknown. Ever since his injury occurred he hasn’t been the same.

Wacha spent most of the offseason attempting to rehabilitate and strengthen his shoulder in order to avoid fatigue among other issues like he did throughout the 2016 season. Hopefully, he strengthens it enough to contribute at least 150 quality innings as a starter. He started the 2016 season with about 50 innings of really good pitching maintaining an ERA right around 4.00 while continuing to get better and better. However, in mid-to-late May, something changed and it all went downhill.

  • Alex Reyes wins the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year award.

This is more likely a wish for fans rather than the organization itself. Surely the Cardinals would be ecstatic if Reyes can win the RoY award but they aren’t prioritizing that as a goal for the season. But, after Reyes’s 2016 debut, it was hard to not be excited for the young flamethrower. He made 12 appearances including 5 starts and pitched 46 innings with a 1.57 ERA.

Alex Reyes is surely an early candidate for the award and if he remains a candidate down the stretch then that just means he’s having a great season. Although the award is for an individual, it would also be a sign of the team’s success. He will have some tough competition though including players Dansby Swanson and Tyler Glasnow. But how cool would it be if the 22-year old wins it?