St. Louis Cardinals: Random observations from the first two games

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into third base after hitting an RBI triple against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning during game two of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium on September 1, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into third base after hitting an RBI triple against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning during game two of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium on September 1, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals and MLB are finally back. What did the first two games tell us about this 2020 version of the Cardinals?

Okay, I know it’s early, and just a couple of games. But watching the games Friday night and Saturday afternoon, I have already formed some opinions, observations, and a few questions about the 2020 version of the St. Louis Cardinals.

First of all, Jack Flaherty looks like he deserves to be called the ace of the staff. His fourth-inning strikeout of Colin Moran with runners on first and second with two outs was just what you would have expected from a Bob Gibson or Chris Carpenter. Even though he hit a bump in the seventh inning, Flaherty didn’t collapse and turned over a lead to the Cardinals’ bullpen for the eighth inning.

Secondly, Adam Wainwright looked closer to being a top of the rotation piece than he has in the last few years. Six innings, 83 pitches, five strikeouts, and only one walk by the time he turned it over the bullpen. Good job, Waino. He was still sitting comfortably at 91 mph with his fastball and had the control he needed to make great pitches.

While we are on the subject of the bullpen, it came through Friday night in a big way with Ryan Helsley handling the eighth and Kwang Hyun Kim closing it out in the ninth. Helsley looked like he is major league ready, and, yes, Kim gave everyone a scare in the ninth. But he didn’t come apart and found what he needed to close out the game.

Did I see Eugene come out to the mound with Maddux in the ninth?

Speaking of the bullpen, the new three-hitter rule will eventually make a big impact on this season. Can you imagine Tony LaRussa trying to live with this rule? But I suppose the great managers would all adjust.

It’s too early to give this offense a passing grade, but it did come through in both games. Home runs by Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill, and Paul DeJong lifted the offense on Friday. That was followed up on Saturday with two-RBI outings by Tommy Edman, DeJong, and Matt Carpenter. It’s too early to throw any one player under the bus, but I still don’t like what I see from Harrison Bader at the plate.

Defensively, let’s just leave Tommy Edman at third base. I know the plan is to move him around. However, I like seeing him play third, and, in my opinion, has Gold Glove potential. Just make him your everyday third baseman and move on. I know he made an error Friday night, but he will only get better with more time at third.

Who else enjoyed Kolten Wong‘s mad dash for an inside the park homer Friday night and his ‘Charlie Brown‘ slide into home plate? High entertainment as far as I was concerned. Nevertheless, it does show Mike Shildt’s continued aggressive base running philosophy for this team. I say, Bravo.

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Moving forward, Paul DeJong will need to replace Marcell Ozuna as the primary protection for Paul Goldschmidt. DeJong’s two-run homer in the eighth inning Friday night and his two for four performance Saturday is a good start. For the offense to be a better version than 2019, Matt Carpenter will need to be the hitter we saw from 2015 to 2018.

Finally, I have to admit, when I sat down to watch the game on Friday night, my enthusiasm wasn’t very high. No fans in the stand, a limited season, and some of the rule changes had taken some of my passion for baseball away.

However, watching the game and listening to Dan McLaughlin and Brad Thompson call the game, I found myself enjoying the experience. Hey, I wasn’t even bothered by the fake crowd noise. Of course, winning the first two games of the season doesn’t hurt either.

dark. Next. Does it make sense for the St. Louis Cardinals to tank in 2020?

At the end of the day, St. Louis Cardinals baseball is back and it feels good.

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