St. Louis Cardinals: Luke Weaver
Homegrown hitting and pitching has defined the St. Louis Cardinals machine, but the team has missed the playoffs two years in a row and has tried to dip into free agency to keep up with the Cubs. Results have been mixed so far on the big-ticket items like Dexter Fowler and Mike Leake. Fowler was inconsistent in his first year in St. Louis, while Leake pitched well enough but was moved last August.
Part of the reason it was possible for the Cardinals to move on from Leake, who had been signed just a year prior, was the emergence of Luke Weaver. The 24-year-old right-hander put together a six-start stretch in August and September last year where he went 6-0 with a 1.49 ERA and held opponents to a .215/.243/.296 line. Weaver did run out of gas and was shelled in his final two appearance, but still finished the year 7-2 with strong strikeout numbers.
The torch has been completely passed from Adam Wainwright to the next great Cardinals starters. This is Carlos Martinez’s rotation, but Weaver isn’t far behind and could pull equal this year. He has wicked stuff and has struck out 10.9 per nine in his early days in the big leagues.
Adding Marcell Ozuna will give the Cardinals the thump in the middle of the lineup they missed last year. A full season from Luke Weaver, however, could go farther to pushing this team back to the playoffs.