Cardinals begin Spring Training while preparing for the new season

In Florida, the St. Louis Cardinals finished their first series against the Mets in Spring Training this past weekend. This was the first Grapefruit League match for the Cardinals, where they won the series 1-0. 

It was a two game series, but the Cardinals and Mets tied 3-3 after nine innings. No extra innings are played in Spring Training in order to preserve player energy for the regular season. The first game was on Saturday, where the Cardinals shut out the Mets in a 2-0 pitching performance. 

Jack Flaherty is the main talk of the Cardinals this Spring Training and season, as a NL Cy Young Candidate last year. Flaherty pitched two scoreless innings Saturday. At age 24, he is looking to continue where he left off last season. He will get the ball on Opening Day 2020, officially being the ace for the Cards. 

Other young players are looking good to go for the season as well, including Dakota Hudson, Harrison Bader and Paul Dejong. Many players have to prove this Spring Training that they are ready for a spot on the big league roster as well. This is mainly Tyler O’Neill, Yairo Munoz and Lane Thomas. With the loss of Marcell Ozuna and no veteran to replace him, there is an open spot in the outfield. O’Neill is looking like the strongest candidate for the starting role. 

Veterans have a lot to prove this month as well, like Carlos Martinez. After bad shoulder injuries, Martinez has shifted from an all-star caliber starting pitcher to a decent closer. However, he fell apart in the NLDS against the Braves by giving up runs at crucial times. He is already off to a bad start to the year, giving up two runs and four hits in 1.1 innings. It is unclear whether he can get his old role as a starter back, or even be able to close games effectively this season. 

The success of the Cardinals this year is dependent not only on the development of the young players, but the bounce back season of many of its veterans. Matt Carpenter had a horrible season last year, batting .226. This was his worst average since 2011, where he only played seven games. Also, Adam Wainwright needs to step up in what is probably his final year. The Cardinals could make a playoff run if Wainwright can play like his old self. 

A playoff appearance is going to be a lot more difficult this year, as the Reds and Braves all added all-star quality players this year. The Braves have one of the best offensive lineups after adding the big bats of Josh Donaldson and Ozuna. 

Overall, the Cardinals are ready to begin an exciting season with the young talents rising and the veterans needing to prosper.