Tommy Edman, SS
Best-case scenario: Leadoff hitter and Gold Glover
Tommy Edman is projected to be the Cardinals’ No. 9 hitter on most days, but if he displays an uptick in his batting stats this season, a leadoff position isn’t out of the question, although that may better fit the skill set of Brendan Donovan. Edman also stole 32 bases last year, and with the bigger bases, 40 steals might be a possibility. He has also proven to be a top-of-the-line fielder, and continued production on defense will go a long way in making the left side of the infield possibly the best in baseball.
Worst-case scenario: Reserve utility player
Edman’s results varied wildly from month to month in his hitting, bottoming out at .198 in July, and the Cardinals would surely like to see him be more consistent throughout the season. Edman doesn’t have the upside many of the other young Cardinals infielders do, including Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, and prospect Masyn Winn, so if Edman remains inconsistent, he may find himself passed by players who have higher ceilings, and he might be mentioned in trade talks.
Jack Flaherty, RHP
Best-case scenario: Cy Young Award contender
Jack Flaherty’s 2019 consisted of one of the best second halves in recent Cardinals history, where he had an 0.91 ERA and a .142 opposing batting average. While his production since then has not come close to that peak, Flaherty has the talent to be an ace. The Cardinals don’t have a rotation that stacks up to those of other playoff contenders, but a healthy and productive Flaherty could give the Cardinals a menace whom opponents dread to face.
Worst-case scenario: Borderline starter
The gulf between Flaherty’s best- and worst-case scenario is likely larger than that of any other Cardinal. Injuries over the past few years have sapped his velocity and strikeout stuff. He was smacked around for much of spring, with 14 earned runs in 19.2 innings. He also struck out only 15 batters. If Flaherty’s spring issues continue, the Cardinals are in trouble and will likely need to give up significant players to trade for an ace at the deadline.
Giovanny Gallegos, RHP
Best-case scenario: Strong setup man and occasional closer
The Cardinals’ bullpen success is quite dependent on Giovanny Gallegos’ production. Over the past four years, Gallegos has 212 appearances and a 2.85 ERA, making him a reliable player at a volatile position. Gallegos has been a pillar in the bullpen and should reliably provide a bridge to closer Ryan Helsley. Gallegos also has experience as a successful closer and could assume the role when Helsley needs a break or if he falters.
Worst-case scenario: Loses reliability and bullpen collapses
Gallegos was a bit shakier last year than he was in 2021, giving up 6.4 hits per nine innings after 5.7 in 2021. At 31 years old, he could be exiting his prime years. The Cardinals don’t have an established, reliable eighth-inning pitcher on the roster; the closest might be Jordan Hicks. If Gallegos is inconsistent for the first time in his career, the bullpen as a whole will likely be a liability.