St. Louis Cardinals 2019 Season Preview: Fantasy Analysis
2018 Record: 88-74
Projected 2019 Record: 86-76
2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook
The Cardinals made some offseason additions, with Marcell Ozuna and Miles Mikolas. Now this offseason they have added Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller. Both are strong upgrades, and will now have them in contention with Chicago and Milwaukee. They were close last season, and expectations will be high heading into 2019. They also have room to make a move at the deadline, as the pitching might be the question mark if the backend can’t deliver even average seasons. Carlos Martinez’s health has also been starting to become a talking point. Overall this bunch should compete in the National League, but are probably closer to a Wild Card team.
One of the bigger storylines for the Cardinals heading into the new year is simply can they keep up with Chicago and Milwaukee. They have been close the last few years, but this year they loo to have narrowed the gap. Because of the offseason signings, they will push in key areas that they were a little lackluster in. Harrison Bader made his case last season to be a full-time outfielder, which has pushed Dexter Fowler out of the mix. Bader hit left-handers well, but we also have a small sample size on his future outcome. The rotation lacks a big ace like some of the others in the league, and Carlos Martinez’s rocky injury track record of late is a concern.
Cardinals Starting Pitching
As mentioned, the Cardinals lack an ace pitcher, but have above average arms. Jack Flaherty has the stuff to be a future ace, and this could be the year he tallies up massive numbers. They are going to need him to round out what he showed last season. Carlos Martinez’s velocity has suffered of late, and walks have gone up as well. As a result ERA estimators have gone way up. If Martinez can’t regain some form, and if his ERA moves up, this could be a concern for the Cardinals. Miles Mikolas was a nice surprise coming back from overseas, as he changed his approach.
Mikolas isn’t a big strikeout arm, but he will eat innings and keep his ERA rather low. Outside of these names, St. Louis is pushing their luck with Adam Wainwright still in the rotation. It is an area that they should improve before the deadline.
The Cardinals bullpen is looking strong heading into the season. For example, Jordan Hicks throwing 103mph fastballs is going to get things off to a nice start. Hicks will split time with Andrew Miller as the closer, as the lefty-righty tandem will be used based on matchups. While this isn’t fun for fantasy, this gives the Cardinals multiple ways to go. Alex Reyes is a young arm that has had arm injuries so far in his career. He will be used in the bullpen, which is a serviceable space for him. This will take some of the pressure off the starters for going deep into games.
With Paul Goldschmidt joining the middle of the lineup, this adds a power right-handed bat around some quality hitters. Goldy isn’t the speed threat he was a few years ago, but 30 HR and 100 RBI upside is. The Cardinals haven’t had a consistent power bat, although Matt Carpenter changed his style of play a few years ago. With Ozuna and DeJong in the mix at the top of the order, this can be a dangerous lineup to get through, especially for left-handed hitters. The one thing St. Louis lacks is speed. Bader will be the guy likely leading the team on the bases, but don’t expect them to run much. This is a deep lineup as Jose Martinez, Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, and even Dexter Fowler are bottom of the order guys.
Cardinals Projected Lineup
- Matt Carpenter
- Paul DeJong
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Marcell Ozuna
- Yadier Molina
- Harrison Bader
- Jose Martinez
- Kolten Wong
2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers
Jack Flaherty – The right-hander figured it out in 2018, with a 3.86 FIP and 29.6% strikeout rate. He can generate a lot of strikes, and getting ahead is what his next focus should be. At just 23-year old, Flaherty is still coming into his own, but there is already a lot of promise. If Flaherty can gain better control, he will push deeper into games and overall will have better stats. Love the upside for this young right-hander.
Miles Mikolas – After struggling to get into the majors, Miles Mikolas came back after a stint over in Japan. He has turned himself into an elite control pitcher, that rolls a heft amount of groundballs. He also doesn’t allow a ton of hard-contact. While I wouldn’t expect a sub three ERA again, he is going to flirt with 200 innings, and give you wins. Guys like this are not sought after given the non strikeout upside, but paired with high strikeout arms he can fit right into a fantasy rotation.
2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters
Paul Goldschmidt – Paul Goldschmidt has hit 30+ homers in three of the last four years. His stolen bases dropped to just seven in 2018, which hurts when comparing him to the truly elite bats above him. Goldy is locked into a slightly better surrounding cast, and after the humidor was put into play, there is no real transition moving into Busch Stadium for half a season. Goldy still hammered left-handed pitching, and while his early season struggles showed, he still finished with an identical .390 wOBA in the first and second half.
Matt Carpenter – There was an insane hot stretch in baseball last season, as Matt Carpenter just mashed baseballs. He has climbed in power over the last fur seasons, and changed his approach. No reason to expect a drop off this year, as he should be the other Cardinals 30 HR bat. He is striking out a bit more due to the change, but he is still walking at an above average rate. Carpenter is projected to lead off and is one who can push for over 100 runs in this offense.