The Cardinals could have a deep run this season, depending on how these x-factors play.
With some concerns regarding pitching, the Cardinals still have a deep roster that could take them far this season.
The team has a roster loaded with talent in the batting order and on the field. The depth they have there could help the team down the stretch if pitching becomes too big a concern.
Again, pitching may become a concern if the rotation or bullpen becomes taxed late into the season. Adam Wainwright is beginning his final season on the injured list with a groin strain. Miles Mikolas typically takes on large innings loads. He signed a two-year extension last week that will keep him with the Cardinals after this season. Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty will become free agents after this season and surely step up big. Steven Matz had injuries that kept him on the injured list last summer. He will want a big season to show the team what he's made of, as he will be one of two starting pitchers signed after this season.
In past seasons, the bullpen has been very taxed late in the season. It will be essential to see if the starting rotation, under the direction of new pitching coach Dusty Blake, can go deeper and more effectively in the games.
Another area of concern will be the outfield. It's loaded with young talent this season. The outfield projects as any combination of Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill, and Jordan Walker. Carlson and O'Neill are coming back from seasons where they faced injury. Nootbaar has been impressive, even gaining international appeal by playing for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Burleson was a backup for much of last season, and Walker is a 20-year-old who has had a meteoric rise as the Cardinals' top prospect. This young outfield corp is exciting, but would they benefit from having a veteran in the mix?
Let's take a look at three players who could be X-Factors in the Cardinals 2023 season.