St. Louis Cardinals — Predicted Finish: First Place, NL Central
The Cardinals have about as many fantasy options as any team in baseball. You have to love the middle of their order with a rising star in Allen Craig, established bats like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Yadier Molina, and plenty of upside at the bottom from David Freese and Jon Jay. It is an offense that looks like it should score plenty of runs.
The pitching staff will be solid as usual, but there are questions just how it will shake out. Chris Carpenter should be good to go, but at age 37 he could slow down a bit. Adam Wainwright should bounce back from a down year for him while Jaime Garcia may not be back from injury right away. Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook are potential starters, but Shelby Miller should battle them in the spring.
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Furcal,Craig, Holliday, Beltran, Molina, Freese
Furcal is getting older and has played more than 140 games only once in the last six years, but anyone at the top of this order is going to score a lot of runs and he will steal bases too.
Craig should finally get a full season in the line-up at first base and his numbers could go through the roof with Holliday, Beltran, and Molina behind him. Beltran and Molina are coming off monster years that will be tough to repeat, but both can be counted on in fantasy. Holliday is as consistent as any outfielder in baseball so you know what you are going to get and it is always good. Freese could be in line for a career year with so much firepower in front of him.
|1 Starter||Adam Wainwright||31||R||210||59||18||195||0||3.45||1.23|
|2 Starter||Chris Carpenter||37||R||200||49||13||175||0||3.86||1.18|
|3 Starter||Jaime Garcia||26||L||175||38||10||155||0||4.08||1.33|
|4 Starter||Jake Westbrook||35||R||175||58||8||105||0||4.22||1.44|
|5 Starter||Shelby Miller||22||R||150||32||8||135||0||3.95||1.20|
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Wainright, Carpenter, Garcia.
Wainwright struggled at times last year returning from injury, but his final numbers were fine and should improve this year. Carpenter returned late last year after missing the season due to injury, so there is no doubt he will be ready for Opening Day, but at age 37 he could be on a downward slide. Great if you can get him cheap, but don’t take him counting on the 2009 version. Garcia is coming off an injury so pay attention during spring training to see if he is ready to start the year. If healthy, he is an underrated starter. .
Fantasy Star: Holliday
In nine seasons, he has never hit below .286. He has hit at least 20 homers in his last seven seasons and at least 100 RBI in five of those years. He has averaged 143 games played during his career. His consistency ranks among the best at his position and at just 33 years old, there is no reason to expect a dropoff any time soon. Hitting in the middle of St. Louis’ loaded line-up should produce another .290-25-100 line for Holliday.
Fantasy Bust: Westbrook
His ERA dipped below 4.00 for the first time in three years, but his WHIP is always high and he doesn’t strike out many batters. There will be competition throughout the year for spots in the rotation. If Wainwright, Garcia, and Carpenter are healthy all year, they have the top three spots locked down. Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Lance Lynn will all compete for the final two spots and any struggles by Westbrook could send him out of the rotation.
Fantasy Sleepers: Jay, Miller, Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras
Jay is hitting in a great spot to drive in a lot of runs if he can boost his power a bit. If he doesn’t, he could get replaced by Oscar Taveras, arguably the best hitting prospect in the minors who should start the season at Triple A, but could get the call if needed.
Shelby Miller has been one of the top pitching prospects in the minors the past few years and got a late-season call-up last year when he struck out more than one batter per inning in limited work. If he locks down a spot in the rotation, he has tremendous upside.
Wong is another top prospect slated to begin the year in Triple A, but if Descalso gets off to a slow start, Kolten Wong could get the call to the bigs.
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