Cardinals' lineup against right-handed pitching
I broke down different lineup options for the Cardinals recently depending on how they choose to stack up, but O'Neill starting in center field would drastically change a lot of those outlooks. Here is how I would see them stacking up against right-handed pitching.
1. LF Lars Nootbaar 2. CF Tyler O'Neill 3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt 4. 3B Nolan Arenado 5. C Willson Contreras 6. DH Nolan Gorman 7. RF Jordan Walker 8. 2B Brendan Donovan 9. SS Tommy Edman
Should O'Neill win the Opening Day job in center field, I think it is extremely likely that Jordan Walker would win one of the corner outfield jobs as well. Against right-handed pitching, this now becomes a very dangerous order one through nine.
The first seven players in the lineup all boast significant power and can change the game with one swing of the bat. Pitchers will have to navigate very difficult situations when runners are on base, as this lineup can do damage in a hurry. O'Neill bats second here in my opinion, as teams have to go right after him with two MVP-level hitters following him.
With guys like Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman at the bottom of the order, the top five hitters in the Cardinals' order should consistently have guys on base to put even more pressure on opposing teams' pitching.
I could see this lineup being ordered a few other ways, but this makes the most sense to me for creating a dangerous top of the lineup and protection for the middle of it while setting the table for the top of the lineup again with great on-base guys at the bottom.
On rest days for regulars, I would imagine that Gorman goes in to play second and Brendan Donovan would move around the infield or potentially outfield. Juan Yepez or Dylan Carlson could be the next guys into the lineup at that point.
Speaking of Carlson, I do see his role against left-handed pitching still being significant.