The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The St. Louis Cardinals roster and schedule:
CARDINALS ROSTER (projected)
When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.
In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Cardinals roster to begin the season:
Though the Cardinals always seem to be in the playoff hunt, they won the division last year for the first time since 2015. They are looking to repeat as NL Central champs in a much shorter 60-game season. They’ll attempt to do so relying heavily on their pitching staff.
Last season, the Cardinals’ starting rotation combined for a 3.78 ERA, the fifth-best mark in baseball, behind only the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, and Rays. Jack Flaherty, establishing himself as the ace of the rotation, was a big reason behind that. The right-hander, at the age of 23, posted a 2.75 ERA with 231 strikeouts and 55 walks over 196 1/3 innings, finishing fourth in NL Cy Young balloting. While it’s a big ask to have someone repeat a sub-3.00 ERA, Flaherty is one of the handful of hurlers in the game one can see doing it on a consistent basis. Flaherty will be flanked by a solid corps of arms in Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas. Carlos Martínez and Kwang-Hyun Kim are vying for the No. 5 spot. The Cardinals need bullpen depth and Martínez has spent most of the last two seasons in relief, so he may open the season in the bullpen, but nothing has been decided by manager Mike Shildt as of yet.
If Martínez returns to the bullpen, he’ll do so coming off of a solid though injury-shortened 2019 season. He logged 48 1/3 innings, recording 24 saves with a 3.17 ERA, 53 strikeouts, and 18 walks. Sans Martínez, the Cardinals have a plethora of potential closers in Kim, Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, and Andrew Miller. They could also use a closer-by-committee setup. After all, last year’s bullpen posted an aggregate 3.88 ERA, the sixth-best mark in the game behind the Rays, Astros, Indians, Giants, and Dodgers.
Baseball Prospectus projects the Cardinals to play about .500, good for third place in the NL Central. If the Cardinals are to buck those projections, they will need the offense to step up. Outside of Tommy Edman, whose adjusted OPS of 120 was the best mark on the team last year (min. 100 PA), none of the hitters’ performances knocked anyone’s socks off. Even Paul Goldschmidt’s 113 adjusted OPS was a disappointment by his own standards. His previous career-low in a season (min. 200 PA) was 126 in 2012 and he was coming off of back-to-back seasons of 142.
Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.
- July 24-26: vs. Pirates
- July 28-29: @ Twins
- July 31-August 2: @ Brewers
- August 3-4: @ Tigers
- August 5-6: vs. Tigers
- August 7-9: vs. Cubs
- August 10-12: vs. Pirates
- August 13, 15-16: @ White Sox
- August 17-19: @ Cubs
- August 20-23: vs. Reds
- August 24-26: vs. Royals
- August 28-30: vs. Indians
- August 31-September 2: @ Reds
- September 4-7: @ Cubs
- September 8-9: vs. Twins
- September 11-13: vs. Reds
- September 14-16: @ Brewers
- September 17-20: @ Pirates
- September 21-23: @ Royals
- September 24-27: vs. Brewers