The St. Louis Cardinals are going into the 2021 MLB season as the favorite in the NL Central and they look like the best team on paper, but it will be all up to how they perform this season with a healthy team with new acquisitions.
The biggest addition the Cardinals made this offseason was 3B Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals solidified a need at third base and potentially brought in the best third baseman in the game. His contract is hefty, but he can play in this league. Catcher Yadier Molina is back for another year with 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Tommy Edman, and SS Paul DeJong anchoring the rest of the infield. Left fielder Dylan Carlson gets his chance to showcase his hitting this year with CF Harrison Bader looking to bounce back from last season with RF Tyler O’Neill rounding out the outfield. This lineup has some big names that can do damage, but the health of the outfield will be essential to keeping this team in the playoff hunt.
Jack Flaherty is the unsung hero of this team, that can be a Cy Young winner this year. He has electric stuff and will anchor this staff with Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas who are looking to have a bounce-back season as well. Rising star Dakota Hudson and veteran Adam Wainwright will round out the back end of the rotation. The Cardinals rotation shows promise but the health of Martinez and Mikolas will be key this season as they both can be great when they are healthy.
The bullpen is anchored by their star closer and former New York Yankee Giovanny Gallegos who broke out once he was traded to this team. Jordan Hicks is back this season after Tommy John surgery as he throws 100 almost every pitch. Andrew Miller is back with Alex Reyes and both of their health is essential to keeping this bullpen intact for the entire season as they can both be filthy when they come in to pitch out of the bullpen. Kwang-Hyun Kim and Daniel Ponce de Leon round out the bullpen. This bullpen can be one of the best in the game if all of the pitchers can stay healthy and also produce on the field when they need to come into pitch. The bullpen can be key to this Cardinals team in the postseason when they may need it the most.
The Cardinals have an impressive lineup and the health of the lineup starting rotation, and bullpen will be important as some players are injury-prone on this team. On paper, the Cardinals are the most talented team in the NL Central, but they will have to perform to be on top of the NL Central at the end of the season. The Cardinals could make noise in the playoffs if they are staying hot and pitching is top-notch.