The St. Louis Cardinals won their opening series against the Pirates over the weekend. With three games down, what can we take away from their play?
If you’re like me, life finally felt close to normal again this weekend. When St. Louis Cardinals baseball is on, there is a momentary reprieve from normal life. It’s romantic, it’s beautiful, and it’s home.
It’s even better when the Cardinals are winning, too.
Winning two out of three against any team is always the goal. Even though the offense looked stagnant on Sunday, nobody should be angry about the overall results. The Pirates are destined for the bottom of the standings, but expecting a sweep at any point during any series is unrealistic.
After the first three games, we can’t draw too many conclusions about the outlook of the 2020 Cardinals, but we did learn a few things.
No. 1: The ball is flying
If there was one thing that many fans noticed to start the year, it’s that the ball was carrying a ton. Starting with Dexter Fowler’s homer on Friday, hits that didn’t really seem like they were going to travel as far as they did were commonplace.
This could be happening for a number of reasons. For one, everything is weird without authentic crowd noise. On TV, we don’t see the entire flight path of the ball, but outside of Wrigley Field, we can normally rely on the crowd to give us some idea of how well a ball was hit. The piped-in crowd noise helps, but it’s not perfect.
Another thing that could be distorting our judgment is that we are used to the season starting in April when the air is much cooler. Jumping right in during July is a whole different animal. The narrative about the “juiced baseball” should probably die, but we are seeing the ball carry more than we are used to at the beginning of the season due to the warmer air.
No. 2: Adam Wainwright still has it
After a couple of years where it looked like Adam Wainwright was on his last leg, 2019 Waino revived his career in 2019.
After the season, the Cardinals rewarded their 38-year-old veteran with another incentive-laden deal for 2020. Some were worried that Waino wouldn’t be able to bounce back after his first full season in a few years, but after one start, all signs point to Waino holding up.
Other than a rocky second inning where Waino “got overheated” and walked in a run, he looked stellar. Over six innings, he let up just three hits while striking out five. Waino was hitting 91 regularly with his fastball and showed fantastic command of the corners. Over just a 60-game season, Waino’s body doesn’t have to be tested as much as a normal year which works to his benefit.
It was just one start against the Pirates, but Waino silenced his haters for now.
No. 3: The Pauls can handle the middle of the order
The Cardinals may have lost Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna this offseason, but that doesn’t mean the offense is going to fall apart. Through two games, the three and four hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong, are proving they can carry the load.
Through 22 combined at-bats, the two have driven in five, scored seven runs, have nine hits, and a homer each. Paul DeJong has struck out five times in 12 plate appearances, but that rate should drop significantly as the season continues.
After last season where Goldschmidt had his worst season in the MLB yet, a hot start is a great sign for a year where the Cardinals are going to need him even more.
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The first series was against the lowly Pirates, but we saw a lot of good things out of the team. It would’ve been cool to see a sweep, but the Cardinals sit tied atop the NL Central after winning the series. It could’ve been worse, the Reds lost their opening series to the Tigers.