St. Louis is fired up for a new baseball season. The Cardinals, slightly retooled from a year ago, are prepared to make a charge back into October—and my final prediction on this list will let you know whether or not I think they’re going to get there. Let’s see how many of these predictions look ridiculous within a week or two...
1. Carlos Martinez will be an All-Star in 2018.
2. But he won’t eclipse 200 innings, as he did last season...
3. ...and the Cy Young conversation will be had without him. Martinez won’t insert himself into that discussion, but he’ll put together another strong season, with 15+ wins, 200+ strikeouts, and an ERA between 3.25 and 3.75. Basically, my bold prediction for Carlos Martinez this season: Nothing bold happens.
4. Miles Mikolas will post a sub-3.90 ERA for the season, but he’ll fall short of the 186.1 innings logged by Lance Lynn last year.
5. Ask Adam Wainwright and he’d tell you there’s nothing bold about this next one, but considering his struggles last season and the fact he’ll begin the season on the disabled list, I’m going with it anyway: Waino will pitch at least 120 innings in 2018, with an ERA below 4.25.
6. Greg Holland does not record more than 65% of the saves by Cardinals pitchers this season.
7. Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, Jordan Hicks and Luke Gregerson will all record at least one save.
8. Call this wishful thinking from a guy who would rather see him in the rotation—Alex Reyes will not record a save this season.
9. Sticking with Reyes, he will rejoin the rotation at some point, and he will have a start where he takes a no-hitter deeper than any other Cardinal this season.
10. With high expectations upon him, Luke Weaver keeps his ERA around 4.00 but doesn’t log more than 155 innings.
11. Mike Mayers will have an ERA below 3.80 and will be an effective reliever for the Cardinals this season.
12. St. Louis won’t trade any of the Triple H’s—Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley or Dakota Hudson—during the season.
13. The Cardinals, will, however trade a young outfielder from this group before the end of the calendar year: Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Jose Adolis Garcia, Oscar Mercado, Randy Arozarena.
14. Marcell Ozuna will not reach 30 home runs or 100 RBIs this season—he’ll be around 27 and 92.
15. Carson Kelly will find at least 150 MLB plate appearances in 2018.
16. I’m not specifying whether those plate appearances all come with the Cardinals, though they probably will. How does Kelly, who won’t begin the year on the MLB roster, find those plate appearances in St. Louis? Yadier Molina will fall short in his goal to lead the majors in innings caught this season, because he’ll spend at least a short stint on the disabled list, during which time Kelly will handle the everyday catching duties.
17. So that Yadi doesn’t come after me, let me stick my positive prediction for him right after the negative one: Molina will follow up last year’s power surge (18 home runs after 22 in the three previous years combined) with another 15+ home runs this season.
18. He’ll also be an All-Star.
19. And he’ll be one of eight Cardinals to reach that 15-homer plateau in 2018. Don’t hold me to this, but I say the most-likely eight are Molina, Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, Jedd Gyorko, Marcell Ozuna, Paul DeJong and Jose Martinez.
20. Yairo Munoz could join that group if he gets enough playing time.
21. Munoz probably won’t get enough playing time, because Greg Garcia will still find his way to 250 plate appearances for the third year in a row.
22. Kolten Wong won’t hit 15 homers; he will set a career high in stolen bases in a single season—surpassing his 2014 total of 20—but he won’t lead the team in steals.
23. That distinction will go to Tommy Pham, who won’t reach his goal of a 30-30 season in 2018—but will have a 25/25 season.
24. Matt Carpenter will hit at least .275, even if the home run numbers dip a bit. His OBP will be at least .375.
25. Jack Flaherty will struggle a bit in his early-season efforts filling in for Wainwright. He’ll spend some time in Memphis and come back looking more prepared for a regular role in the rotation later in the summer.
26. Middle of the pack last year in strikeouts by batters, the Cardinals will be K’d more often this season, and will rank in the top 10 in MLB as a team.
27. Regression will find Paul DeJong, but it won’t get him as bad as it did Aledmys Diaz last season. DeJong will still manage 20 home runs with a SLG in the neighborhood of .475.
28. You will begin to recognize John Brebbia again at some point during the season. Unless he shaves again.
29. Jokes aside on Matt Bowman's usage, he actually will see Mike Matheny call his number less often this season. After 75 appearances last year, Bowman won't make more than 60 this season.
30. In the ‘Pitchers who rake’ category: Carlos Martinez will hit his first-career home run, Michael Wacha will find his second-career extra base hit and Matt Bowman will record his first-career hit.
31. Whether he qualifies based on plate appearances I don’t know, but Jose Martinez will lead the Cardinals in batting average for the plate appearances he does have.
32. Dexter Fowler will bat leadoff more than any other position in the lineup this season.
32. Jedd Gyorko has posted an OPS of at least .800 his two seasons in St. Louis. He’ll fall just short of that this season, but will still end up north of .750.
34. The Cardinals win 87 games, earning them a wild card and a return to the postseason for the first time since 2015.