St. Louis Cardinals Tickets
The St Louis Cardinals
The hated and long time rival St. Louis Cardinals pose the greatest threat to the Cubs defending their crown in 2017. At the same time much depends on some relatively unproven, at the major league level prospects coming into their own for manager Mike Matheny. It is noteworthy that every season the Cardinals always feature players no one has heard of who make a splash and contribute significantly to the overall success of the team. That is due to a healthy and talented farm system that is continually, over the years sending players to the majors who stay there. A recent example of this process is the versatile Kolten Wong who played all 3 OF positions along with 88 games at 2B and provided clutch hitting in the playoffs in 2015. A complete unknown around the league except in the Cardinals' organization he looks to have an even better 2017. Fighting for a spot in the infield is power hitting Jedd Gyroko who is challenging Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter at 3B and give Matheny a big option when he platoons Carpenter and Matt Adams at first base. Gyroko slugged 30 HRs in his first season with the Cardinals in 2016. Arguably the best catcher in the majors is back for another season, Yadier Molina posted a .308 BA while throwing out nearly every base runner who dare run against him and handling a pitching staff that had its ups and downs in 2016.
The outfield is where some holes have opened up and question marks abound. Although the team did steal Cubs star Dexter Fowler via free agency. Fowler, who had a breakout season in 2016 that allowed him to hit the free agent market searching for the big dollar, long term contract which the Cardinals were happy to reward him with. He could end up being a big thorn in the side of the Cubs when these two teams hook up for what are always contentious games regardless of their respective records. In RF Stephen Piscotty looks to improve upon his productive 2016 where he hit 22 HRs and had 85 RBIs but tailed off big time in the late season. Only 26, it was thought that the fatigue of the long grind of a 162 game schedule was the main reason for the drop off and the team hopes this season he'll be more prepared to stay productive for the entire season? LF seems to be Randal Grichuk's to lose. Last season's prospect of note had a good start to 2016 but his undisciplined swing netted lengthy slumps, inconsistent playing time and finally a demotion to triple A. After being sent down he rebounded late in the year and has 30 HR potential that the Cardinals hope will come to fruition.
The pitching staff was beset with injuries last season that the team hopes are behind them for 2017. # 1 starter Adam Wainwright suffered his worst season in the majors in 2016 posting career highs in ERA, FIP, WHIP and opponent BA. There were outings between those bad numbers where he looked like the dominant pitcher he was in 2013-2015 but most of the season saw him as a disappointment. So far this spring he has shown that he is ready to be the pitcher the team depends on him to be. Ken Wacha, one of the starters who suffered arm trouble in 2016 is said to be throwing 96+ mph in spring training with no pain after his starts. A return to his best would be a huge boost to a less than deep staff. The bullpen will be a strength of the team with Seung-Hwan Oh getting the role of closer to begin the season. Kevin Seigrist and Trevor Rosenthal will be there should Oh falter as the closer? The Cardinals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 last season and will be looking to return to the post-season this year and you can be there to see it all with Captain Ticket.
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