So this post is based on a poll that I ran on Twitter earlier this week. Basically suggesting that there are a few key things (assuming most other things stay the same) that could boost the Cardinals playoff hopes, and maybe more in 2020. It keys in on players that either had a rough 2019 season, or just really haven’t been able to put all the pieces together yet. One scary thing is that the Cardinals sort of need these things to happen with so many unanswered questions and so little offseason movement. Whether it has been out of their control because of injury or they are just trying to figure a few things out at the plate, these four things would boost the Cardinals in 2020.
1) A Matt Carpenter bounce back
So in the Twitter poll, this was the most voted for answer. We all know the player that Matt Carpenter can be and the player he has been in the past. The first part of 2018 and the whole of 2019 has unfortunately been what we have come to expect from Carp lately. It isn’t fun at all to have no faith in one of your favorite players, but that is where I have found myself every time he comes up to the plate. He has been a home run hitter, and not much else in the past few years. While that can be fun at times, it isn’t the style of baseball he built his career on and certainly not what I want to see out of him. If 2020 Matt Carpenter can get back to that consistent, low strikeout, fighting off seven-pitches in a row form, then 2020 could look pretty good with him in the middle of the lineup. On the other hand, if he returns to the player he was nearly all of last year, he may find himself on the pine for a good portion of the year. I’m praying for the former.
2) A consistent hitting Harrison Bader
Harrison Bader is a guy who can run, a guy who can defend with the best of them, and a guy who can even hit for power sometimes. Also, a guy who can struggle greatly to even put the bat on the ball. His contact tool has come to the point that even I, an insanely optimistic Twitter user, can’t defend some of the “at-bats” that he puts together. This one is probably the longest shot of them all, because he really hasn’t been a contact hitter for most of his career at any level, and I suspect that is why it was the answer on the poll that received the least votes. If somehow, some way, the coaching staff and Bader could unlock something inside him that makes him more consistent, WATCH OUT. Putting the ball in play, even on the ground, means hits for Harrison. If he could just simply put the bat on the ball more often, he would be at least a four-tool player.
3) A full season of Alex Reyes
This one is tough. Nobody really knows what Alex Reyes could be. We’ve heard for years now that he is a top three guy in the rotation, if not higher than that. Unfortunately the injuries have continued to stack and his career has been nothing short of a failure so far, and that sucks. If Reyes can provide a glimpse of what scouts and prospect writers have been saying for years, while consistently staying injury free, the Cardinals get a big boost to their bullpen or (preferably imo) rotation. At this point, with the uncertainty of Mikolas and unproven ability of Kwang-Hyun Kim, Reyes coming out of the gates strong could change a lot of people’s expectations for 2020. While Carpenter was the most voted for answer on the poll because of the effect it would have on the team, I got the feeling from many that this is the one they personally want to see the most, even just for entertainment purposes. We’ve had a small taste of what Alex Reyes can be, but is 2020 the season where he can stay healthy and put it all together? I sure hope so.
4) A healthy Carlos Martinez
Carlos, Carlos, Carlos. Where do I even start? The man with some of the dirtiest pitches on the planet, that constantly gets ridiculed by dumb-dumbs for being a head case. A star pitcher in the past that has faced injuries over the last few years and landed him in the closer role. While he didn’t do an awful job, this is a guy who could be a premier starter in the NL. Closing is an important role, but what Carlos can provide as a starter, when healthy, makes him a player that can tip the scales in 2020. The Cardinals have already said that Carlos is going to be starting this season, so that is the first step. The next step is for him to stay healthy. If Carlos can do that, Jack + CMart is a scary scary 1-2 (and don’t get me started on the rotation if Alex Reyes shows up to the party). Either way, Carlos doesn’t have to be a top 15 pitcher in the NL like he has been in the past, I just want a nice consistent and healthy season. I don’t think that is too much to ask for and could make a heavy positive impact on the 2020 Cardinals.
While most of this is just me rambling about players I want to see succeed in 2020, I think they could be key cogs to the machine that will power the Cardinals.
I know a lot of you chimed in on the Twitter poll, but I still want to hear from you.
Do you think these things are possible?
Which do you think is most important?
Which do you think would be the most fun to watch?
LET ME KNOW!