On this edition of Judgment Zone the Arch City Sports writers were asked which position player and which pitcher were most important to the Cardinals success in 2017.
Most Important Position Player
Stephen Ground – Position player is so hard to pick one. I have heard so much about Wong shoring up our infield defense that I’m tempted to say him. Which Kolten Wong will we see?
Jeremy Karp – I’d say Randal Grichuk in the outfield. Piscotty and Fowler have cemented their spots in the field, but Grichuk needs to prove he deserves to be out there. The outfield shifted around so much last year, to have that piece of the puzzle fixated would be ideal.
Andy Cockerill – For me the most important guy in the lineup is Matt Carpenter. When he has went down in the past, the team seems to have a hard time scoring runs and replacing him at leadoff. With Carpenter taking on the role of a middle order guy, he becomes a guy who can’t be pitched around after Fowler and Diaz. If Piscotty is right he provides protection for him on the back end. Carpenter has seemed out of sorts unless batting first. He really needs to figure out how to simply be himself, but now in the 3 hole.
Gene Redman – For position player I think it’s Kolten Wong. Tons of untapped potential that we have seen flashes of. I think he needs to start taking pitches to the opposite field and quit being homer happy. It drives me crazy when he tries to pull outside pitches and ends up grounding out to second. Use the whole field!
Most Important Pitcher
Katie Schoeck – I want to say Carlos Martinez, he was an ace pitcher last season. He stepped up when Wainwright came back from his Achilles injury and lacked a little bit. Martinez went 16-9, while Waino was 13-9, Leake was 9-12 and Garcia was 10-14. Martinez also had a relatively low ERA, compared to the other pitchers.
Andy Cockerill – On the mound the resurgence of Michael Wacha is key. I haven’t forgotten his playoff start vs LA and his one hitter that same season vs Washington in 2013. Assuming that Wacha can be a healthy dependable starter, it instantly makes that starting rotation so much deeper. When a 5th starter can pitch like Michael Wacha is capable of, it also doesn’t tax the bullpen every 5th day. If he can become the pitcher we remember from 4 years ago, along with a bulked up Wainwright, healthy Lance Lynn, confident Mike Leake, and budding ace Carlos Martinez – the Cardinals will instantly look like a challenger to Chicago.
Gene Redman – I would say for pitcher it’s Wainwright. Last year his curve wasn’t as effective as in past years and with his fastball losing velocity it’s more important than ever he establishes his curveball and fastball location. I think he’s smart enough to make the adjustments and can become as effective as he was. Look what Justin Verlander did.
Stephen Ground – Really good question. I would say Wainwright for a pitcher. If he can look anything like the Wainwright of old, our staff looks a whole lot better.