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2018 MLB Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

A look at the St. Louis Cardinals with fantasy baseball in mind.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 83-79
Runs: 13th
Home Runs: 18th
Stolen Bases: 17th
ERA: 10th
Saves: 10th
Strikeouts: 12th

The Cardinals missed the postseason for the 2nd straight season. They, along with the Brewers, were the only teams with a winning record and no postseason to show for it. Looking at team stats, the Cardinals were pretty average but definitely balanced. They also head into 2018 without a clear closer. For a team that was top 10 in saves, this is certainly a situation to keep an eye on.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Carlos Martinez

After failing to land Giancarlo Stanton, Martinez heads into 2018 as the premier fantasy option in St. Louis. He finished with a 3.64 ERA 1.22 WHIP and 217 strikeouts over 205 IP. The big takeaway from 2017 is the K rate. Martinez’s K/9 jumped from 8.5 through his first 4 big league years to 9.5 last season. The innings have increased year after year as well. A career 3.42 ERA and 8.8 K/9 pitcher who appears to be a sure bet for 30 starts and 200 IP, Martinez is locked in as a top 20 SP.

The Sleeper: Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver made a huge impact on fantasy teams right away in 2017. After being called up for good on July 27, Weaver finished 7-2 with a 4.08 ERA and 10.99 K/9. If you take out the last 2 starts, 14 earned runs over just 7.2 IP, Weaver was elite! Over 8 starts, and 1 relief appearance, Weaver posted a 2.17 ERA 1.01 WHIP and 11.42 K/9. This has me feeling great about Weaver’s 2018 outlook. He’s undoubtedly earned a rotation spot on opening day and could finish a top 20 SP easily. I have him ranked at SP25 heading into Winter Meetings.

The Guy to Avoid: Tommy Pham

The reasons Pham lands this spot are twofold: 1) He’s the only Cardinals player ranked inside the top 100 not named Carlos Martinez 2) He had a breakout season at age 29. The first reason gives me the excuse to still ‘like’ Pham. I just feel he’s going to be taken in drafts far too soon. Pham hit 23 HR, stole 25 bases, hit .306, and slugged .520. I don’t think any of those numbers are repeated in 2017. The shear ‘out of nowhereness’ of this breakout is really the only leg I have to stand out. Enter 2018 viewing Pham around player #100 overall rather than player #24 overall, which is what he finished in 2017.

The Prospect To Watch: Alex Reyes

The #1 prospect in the Cardinals organization underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the start of Spring Training last season. Eyeing a return in 2018, Reyes has all the makings of a top 20 SP in fantasy. During his brief stint in the majors in 2016, Reyes appeared in 12 games, starting 5 of them. He posted a stellar 1.57 ERA 1.22 WHIP and 10.2 K/9. The walks were a bit high, but as a starter he only had 4.08 BB/9. Not amazing, but certainly something you can deal with given the other numbers. Reyes probably won’t make an appearance in big league action until May at the soonest. The Cardinals also seem to be leaning towards using Reyes out of the bullpen initially. All this to say, Reyes might not make significant fantasy impact until June. Still, the sky high potential of Reyes makes him an interesting draft-and-stash at the end of your 2018 drafts.