The St. Louis Cardinals will be looking to defend their National League Central crown in 2023 after finishing with a 93-69 record last season. The Cards dominated in 2022, finishing 7.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and a full 31.0 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.
The Cardinals start the season at home as they welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Busch Stadium for a three-game series that begins on Thursday, March 30. They follow this up with a three-game tilt against the Atlanta Braves that should be a great barometer of where each team is early in the season. The Cardinals then have home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks to finish their April home slate.
Here are three questions for the Cardinals ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Can they make the postseason again?
The Los Angeles Dodgers may have put up gaudy win totals of late, but when it comes to true consistency, no team in baseball does it as well as the St. Louis Cardinals. This team is looking to make the postseason for the fifth consecutive season, and it is hard to remember a time since the turn of the century when the Cardinals can be described as bad. They are able to do this by making the right decisions in free agency – be it signing stars or veterans that add to the team – while bringing through a mix of rookies and young players hungry to make an impact on the league. This is the formula they will try to use once again in 2023.
What do they look like without Yadier Molina?
The team has been consistently good to great, and through it all, they have had a stabilizing presence behind the plate in catcher Yadier Molina. Molina retired at the end of last season, ending a career that lasted almost two decades with the Cardinals after joining the team in 2004. The Cards knew this was coming, so they added Wilson Contreras for almost $90 million this offseason. The knock on Contreras is his ability to call a game and his perceived lack of defensive skills. His offensive upside will be a boost on what Molina provided, but how can he replace one of the all-time great defensive catchers and a player with the leadership skills of Molina?
Can the pitching staff stay healthy?
The Cards’ lineup is perhaps the best in baseball. They have an infield that every other team in the league should be jealous of and plenty of competition for outfield spots. Where things get a little interesting is the pitching. The talent there is unquestionable, with all the pitchers from the top of the rotation starters through to the bottom of the rotation guys have seen plenty of success. Jack Flaherty needs a healthy season as the projected ace, but his last full campaign was back in 2019. If the pitching staff stays healthy and produces, it is hard to see anyone else winning the NL Central.