The St. Louis Cardinals have finished their first week of spring training games. After week one, who is hot and who is not?
It’s a beautiful sight to see St. Louis Cardinals baseball on the television again. It’s been a long time since there was any sort of normalcy and the giddy, childish feeling of baseball’s return hasn’t worn off yet.
On the field though, not everything has been great thus far for the Cardinals. Fans have been treated to their first look at Nolan Arenado in Cardinal red, but the team has played five games and sits at 1-2.
In the week’s slate of five games, there were two ties, one day where the Cardinals put up 14 runs, and one game where they let up 14 runs. These games don’t matter at all, but for Twitter, there is never a bad time to overreact to meaningless things than during the spring. In honor of overreactions and Saturday off days, let’s look at who is hot and who is not after week one.
Who’s Hot: Andrew Knizner
Andrew Knizner is one of the exciting names to watch this year and this spring because of his unknown role. Will he be backing up Yadier Molina and play once or twice a week? Will the team force Yadi to sit more to share time? Or will Knizner spend yet another season at AAA?
One way he can force the team’s hand is by hitting his way into a bigger role. In week one, he’s gotten off to a good start. So far, he has appeared in three games but has notched four hits in eight at-bats.
That .500 average includes a double, two RBI, and just one strikeout as well. That is a good week for anyone.
Who’s Not: The entire Cardinals pitching staff
It may seem harsh, but it was not a good week for the Cardinals’ starting rotation. To start it off, Jack Flaherty was a little rocky in his first start. Then Miles Mikolas got his start pushed back. Then Adam Wainwright was solid, but then Kwang Hyun Kim and Carlos Martinez both got blown up.
Spring training is much more for pitchers than batters, so it’s unsurprising to see the batters ahead of the pitchers at this point. However, in a week where all but one of your starters have bad starts, it’s a little hard to mentally convince yourself that everything is fine (even if there isn’t really much to worry about yet).
Who’s Not: Matt Carpenter
Matt Carpenter is playing for a starting job this spring. While Tommy Edman has the easy in at second base, Carpenter has refused to admit he’s a part-time player yet. The worry with Matt Carpenter isn’t his effort or drive to still be a productive MLB-er, it is just about whether he can still physically play the game.
Early returns aren’t great as he is hitless in eight at-bats. He’s made a diving play defensively but has just two walks and four strikeouts to his name in the box score. If he wants to be more than a part-time player, he’s going to have to shake off his rust really quickly.
Who’s Hot: Lane Thomas
The outfield debate is far from being decided, but there are very mixed results so far. The incumbents haven’t gotten many at-bats and have done fine, but (as it should be) those who are fighting for a spot have gotten more opportunities.
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Among that group of fighters looking for a way in is Lane Thomas, and he’s done the best of all the outfielders. In 10 at-bats, Thomas has either gotten a hit or a strikeout, five either way. His five hits include a double and three RBI, but he has one walk.
Thomas is going to have to beat out either Harrison Bader or Tyler O’Neill to get some playing time and neither has played poor enough to lose their spot yet. As with Andrew Knizner, if Thomas keeps hitting, he’ll force the Cardinals’ hand to play him more.
Who’s Not: Justin Williams
One of the other three outfielders with more than 10 at-bats is Justin Williams. For the lefty, things haven’t been great. In 11 at-bats, Williams is just 1-11 with a walk and an RBI. He’s struck out just three times which is good, but he is going to need to do a good bit more to play his way onto the St. Louis Cardinals’ bench.
Truth be told, I haven’t been able to watch many of Williams’ at-bats, but one hit in 11 at-bats isn’t a great start to the year.
It has only been five games so any true worry is unwarranted. However, it’s never a good thing to see a pitching staff struggle so much. Thankfully, there are still 19 more games to turn things around.