One of the predictions we were asked to make at Redbird Rants was our “X-Factor.” Here was mine:
“Jack Flaherty’s return from injury will make the difference whether this team has any shot at the NL Pennant. Without Flaherty, there just isn’t enough depth with the rotation. If Flaherty returns by May, and he’s healthy, this team is good enough to make a deep post season run.”
Wrong. Not only are the Cardinals not sure when Flaherty will return, they may not need him to make a deep postseason run. Especially with the added depth to the rotation made at the Trade Deadline.
Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery are shaping up to be the X-Factors the Cardinals need to make a postseason run. So far, they have given the rotation much needed depth and additional innings.
Obviously, the return of Flaherty would be a big lift. But Flaherty’s return is not a certainty, nor can we predict how much help he will if and when he joins the rotation.
A better X-Factor prediction this year would have been John Mozeliak’s moves at the Trade Deadline. When will we learn?
We were also asked to make a Bold Prediction. Mine was Harrison Bader would get a serious look at batting lead off.
“Bader has one stat from last year that may give the analytic driven Cardinals a cause to consider: when leading off an inning, Bader has a slash line of .333/.370/.670 with an OPS+ of 179 in 92 PA.”
Bader got exactly 4 plate appearances at Lead off before he was traded. HIs slashline was .000/.000/.000 with one strikeout. I think we can now say the Cardinals have written off Bader as a future leadoff bat.
Maybe a better Bold Prediction would have been that Albert Pujols would be carrying an OPS+ of 124 by mid-August.