The class of the National League Central lately has been the St. Louis Cardinals. After a 90-win season in 2014, St. Louis got knocked out of the playoffs one step away from the World Series. The roster looks fairly similar going into 2015 with only one major change in Jason Heyward joining the lineup. Here are the three biggest questions for the team heading into the spring.
1. How concerning is Adam Wainwright’s injury? An abdominal strain has put Wainwright on the shelf to begin spring training games and his availability for Opening Day is in question. He is the clear leader of the rotation though and his loss would be massive if it ends up being any length of time. There are quality pieces behind him in Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez though so it’s not as big as it could be for another team.
2. What kind of impact will Heyward have? Last season, Heyward had some struggles while with the Braves, hitting just 11 home runs but did steal 20 bases and hit .271. He is going to find a lot of RBI chances however from his likely second slot in the lineup. He has the chance to knock in 75-80 runs while hitting in between Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday. This looks like a bounce back season for Heyward.
3. Is the bullpen stable? There are some things that are concerning outside of Trevor Rosenthal in the closer role. Jordan Walden is very inconsistent while who knows how long Randy Choate can continue being the situational left-hander. It is an area that has to worry St. Louis as the season grows closer. Can the starters get deep enough into the games to take most of the bullpen out of play?
This is still a great baseball team that will once again win the NL Central when the season is over. Mike Matheny has done a great job of leading this same group for a number of years now and 88-91 wins looks like a sure bet once again. It is now a question of whether or not the Cardinals can get over the hump again to win another World Series.