St. Louis Cardinals: Question marks heading into the Regular Season
By Matt Graves
#4 Miles Mikolas
This is a question mark that many people may not want to consider one. Last year, Mikolas signed a two year, $15.5M deal that was very safe for the Cardinals given that he had not pitched in the MLB since 2014. Then from there, Mikolas put up one of seven 200 inning seasons in the National League pairing it with a stellar 2.83 ERA. After that performance, the Cardinals rewarded Mikolas by locking him up to a four year, $68M extension this Spring.
I loved the extension at the time and still do now. That being said, that doesn’t change the fact that Mikolas is still a question mark heading into 2019. For a player that was more or less a born again rookie in 2018, 2019 could be a season where he has a born again sophomore slump.
Mikolas was fantastic last year and the team placed a big bet on him continuing to be consistent as we move forward. If Mikolas takes a step backward in 2019, it’ll be a big hit to the starting rotation that looks to be a strength as of the end of Spring.
#5 Yadier Molina
I know that including Yadier Molina on this list is absolute sacrilege, but as Yadi enters his age 36 season, there is a reasonable concern as to whether or not he can continue to contribute the innings behind the plate that he has the past 14 years. I put him on this list because it has shown in years past that if there’s no Yadi behind the plate, the pitching staff can start to struggle.
It is great that the team signed and made the easy decision to put Matt Wieters in the backup catcher position, as the Cardinals have not had a backup as good as him at least in the last 10 years. So while the Cardinals are much more covered having a better backup for Molina, there really is never a good substitute. If all the years and innings start to catch up to Molina, it could spell bad news for the outlook of this team and pitching staff as well as the next couple years of Yadi’s contract.
So there are my top five biggest question marks heading into the regular season. There certainly could’ve been more (I didn’t even include Brett Cecil, Carlos Martinez, Luke Gregerson), but I didn’t want it to become an injury question mark list. All games in Jupiter are done and we are just days from the start of the Regular Season. The question marks I included are all players that are making the Opening Day roster and it’s my list so that’s how I wanted to do it.
Some of these issues aren’t as big as others, but each player on this list has an opportunity to tank the Cardinals chances at the NL Central crown if they don’t perform to expected levels. At the end of the day, at least Paul Goldschmidt is going to be on this team for the next six years!