St. Louis Cardinals: Five bold predictions for the 2019 season

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 22: Tyler O'Neill #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk-off home run against the San Francisco Giants in the tenth inning at Busch Stadium on September 22, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 22: Tyler O'Neill #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk-off home run against the San Francisco Giants in the tenth inning at Busch Stadium on September 22, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 10: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals tips his cap after recording his 1,600th career strikeout while playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning at Busch Stadium on September 10, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

#4 Adam Wainwright’s career has a rough ending

Listen, I am just as big of an Adam Wainwright fan as anyone else that loves the Cardinals and everything good in the world. He is my favorite Cardinals player personality and leader that I have seen in my lifetime on the team. That being said, I don’t have high hopes for his performance this year. Due to past issues, he is already not a great fan of this blog, so I figure this prediction won’t hurt our relationship with him at all, so why not.

Last year, I thought at one point that Waino had given up. After one of his rougher starts, he finally admitted that it might be time for Jack Flaherty to take his place in the rotation. Fast forward to August, and he was back on his feet pitching surprisingly well. After the season he restructured his deal to come back for at least one more season on a contract full of incentives.

Fast forward to this spring and Mike Shildt has already named him (somewhat prematurely) a member of the starting rotation. While Waino threw two scoreless innings in his first start, that doesn’t mean that he will be back to how he used to be. In fact, I am going to predict that by about mid-June, he is no longer in the rotation. Waino has thrown a lot of innings in his career and the last few years have shown us that his body may not be able to take it anymore.

Whether he would go from the rotation to a bullpen spot is something that will just have to play itself out, but I don’t think it would be out of the question to see Waino’s age catch up with him this year and end his career. I hope he ends up coaching for your St. Louis Cardinals one day.

#5 Lane Thomas is this year’s breakout contributor

Every year there seems to be a minor league player who comes out of nowhere and finds a way to produce in a big way for the team. This is why other teams say that the Cardinals have “devil magic.” In the past, players like Matt Bowman, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Daniel Descalso and others have seemingly came out of nowhere and became a big part of the team when they weren’t viewed as high prospects.

Lane Thomas is slightly out of this category as he is gaining some notoriety as a prospect after a very strong 2018 season. After he was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017 for international cap space, Thomas hit 24 homers last year between AA and AAA. To go along with his .823 OPS last year, he was stellar in center field and even has shown some of his talent with the glove earlier this spring.

In an outfield that has question marks with Ozuna’s arm in left field and a questionable amount of production in right field, Thomas could step into a role as a fourth outfielder that provides some pop should injuries or a move by the team give him the chance. Be sure to watch him this year.

Finally

There are my five bold predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019. I would not be surprised to see none of these come true, but either way, this year should be fun to watch. Should O’Neill get enough playing time, he has the pop to lead the team. Flaherty has the stuff and the bulldog mentality to make him a Cy Young pitcher. Lane Thomas has about as good of power as anyone in the upper levels of the Cardinals systems.

Once again, I am a huge Adam Wainwright fan, but I just couldn’t let myself predict that everything this year was going to be sunshine and rainbows for the St. Louis Cardinals. As we have all seen in every year since baseball began, someone will get hurt, someone will step back, and players will breakout.

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The St. Louis Cardinals have a lot of potential in a potential-packed NL Central in 2019. With the additions of Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller, they are in a good spot for progress this year. Hopefully their Harper-less offseason had the right moves to help this team make the Postseason.

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