Can the Cardinals weather a difficult schedule to being their season?
If you check out the Cardinals' schedule to begin the 2024 season, you'll notice that it is quite a gauntlet of teams they have to go toe to toe with right out of the gates. After opening the season with a four-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and a three-game set in San Diego against the Padres, they follow that up with series against the Marlins, Phillies, and Diamondbacks.
Following those series, they round out the month of April with the Athletics, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Mets, and Tigers. Outside of the Athletics, each of those teams is expected to at least compete for the playoffs in 2024, with the Dodgers, Phillies, and Diamondbacks being among the top contenders in baseball.
The Cardinals began March and April of 2023 10-19, and that soon snowballed into an awful season as a whole. Their .345 winning percentage during that stretch was the worst of the entire year, with only the month of June being a sub-.400 winning percentage as well. With the expectations that this team has both of itself and from the fanbase, a slow start could bring about major changes, or have another snowball-like effect.
The Cardinals don't need to have the best record in baseball coming out of March/April and they don't even need to have their best stretch of baseball then, but they do need to prove they are a competitive ballclub and now dig themselves a hole that is too difficult to overcome. How they approach Spring Training and the level of focus they have to begin the season will dictate a lot of this.