St. Louis Cardinals: Making New Year Resolutions For The Cardinals

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

New Year Resolutions for the St. Louis Cardinals starting pitching staff.

Adam Wainwright: Eclipse 200 innings pitched to lead the St. Louis Cardinals staff.

Since 2009, Adam Wainwright has completed six healthy seasons. In those six years, has fallen short of this mark only twice, in 2012 and 2016 (coincidentally, he finished with 198.2 innings both seasons). So why is this benchmark so important if it’s so achievable?

Well, in the four seasons in which Wainwright surpassed the 200 inning mark, he placed in the top three for the NL Cy Young Award and received MVP votes every time. He was an All Star three of those four times, and a Gold Glove winner twice. Obviously, when Wainwright reaches this mark, he does so because his stuff is elite. Doing so in 2017 would mean he’s bounced back from his sub-par 2016 season.

Carlos Martinez: Splash a Cardinals hitter with a cup of water 180 times.

The St. Louis Cardinals hit 225 home runs in 2016. How does this have anything to do with Carlos Martinez? Because he got to do this 225 times:

The Cardinals expect to have less power in the lineup next year, but homers should still be an important part of this team. Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty, Jedd Gyorko, and Randal Grichuk all have potential to hit 20+ dingers. Dexter Fowler, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, and Yadier Molina each have a chance to hit double digits.

Getting to 180 homers would mean most of these Cardinals players reach their power potential, and the lineup would again be one of the most potent in the NL.

Mike Leake: Walk fewer than two batters per nine and maintain a ground ball rate greater than 50%.

Brendan wrote for us about how Mike Leake actually had some of his best career peripherals as a starting pitcher in 2016, despite posting a career worst ERA. He struck out batters at a higher clip than his career average, walked batters at a career low rate, and induced ground balls at a career high frequency.

The result was a career low FIP of 3.83. Leake’s ERA has generally been about half a run lower than his FIP throughout his career. This would mean he could have approached an ERA of 3.33.

Leake’s ineffectiveness in 2016 was largely due to the struggles of the defense behind him, and the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals defense should be greatly improved. If Leake keeps his peripherals up, he should put together one of the best seasons of his career.

Alex Reyes: Walk fewer than 10.0% of batters faced.

I’m in a tiny minority of those who worry that Alex Reyes will struggle in 2017. He has never walked fewer than 4.5 batters per nine, meaning he often walks a hitter once every other inning. His career low walk rate in the Minors or Majors was 11.1% in his first year of rookie ball.

Decreasing his walk rate to below 10.0% would mean that his BB/9 would come in around 4.00 or below, compared to 4.50 for his career. This would mean fewer run-scoring opportunities for the opponents he faces, and is likely an important piece for him to contend for the Rookie of the Year award. Of course, this curve will help, too:

Lance Lynn: Make at least 25 starts and average between five and six innings per start.

With Lance Lynn making a return from Tommy John surgery, it is highly likely that the St. Louis Cardinals will be cautious with his workload. This means he will likely be the recipient of extra rest between starts and subjected to pitch-count limitations. However, reaching these goals would mean that Lynn provides quality innings throughout the season while maintaining his health and effectiveness.

Michael Wacha: Take a relief and spot-starter role in stride.

Over the last couple of years, Michael Wacha has struggled with shoulder injuries. Additionally, he was largely ineffective when healthy last year. The emergence of Alex Reyes likely pushes Wacha to a bullpen role to start the season.

As the St. Louis Cardinals know all too well, however, every team needs more than five capable starters. Most of the rotation has injury or longevity concerns, and it will be important for the team to have Wacha as a reliable option to fill in when Lynn, Reyes, or others need a little extra rest.

Luke Weaver: Flourish as the Memphis Redbirds ace.

While this goal is sort of uninspiring on its face, the reality is that Luke Weaver will be starting the season with the AAA club in Memphis. If everything on the MLB level goes as planned, he won’t be seeing MLB action until September call-ups.

That said, a season in Memphis presents an opportunity for the young starter. He has yet to even pitch 40 innings at the AAA level. Additionally, he struggled  in his first taste of MLB action last year. 2017 should provide Weaver the opportunity to continue to grow and develop into an MLB starter.