MLB overreaction: The St. Louis Cardinals are stronger in 2023
Wipe away a late comeback by the Toronto Blue Jays during an Opening Day slugfest, and there was little to frown about in the Gateway City on opening weekend. Jordan Walker flashed plenty of skills in his debut and the Cardinals even showed some power in the post-Albert Pujols era, smacking three first-inning homers off Toronto starter Chris Bassitt on Sunday. Even when things didn’t seem to be going right for the Cardinals in the series (Jack Flaherty embracing the Joker persona and walking seven batters in five innings), St. Louis was able to turn lemons into lemonade (Flaherty also didn’t allow any hits during those five frames).
But are the Cardinals really better than the 2022 team that was swept out of the postseason in the Wild Card round? Will the additions of Walker and Willson Contreras be enough to improve the roster to compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Atlanta Braves (who visit Busch Stadium starting on Monday)? Is the rotation deep enough?
“We have a lot of good players, but we have to go out there and prove it,” reigning National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt said after Saturday’s win. “We’ve had a good two games, but there are 160 to go. Our mindset is take it day by day, try to have good at-bats, and let the results take care of themselves.”
Overreaction grade: Much more reality than overreaction here as well. It’s clear that the Cardinals have a chip on their collective shoulders from last season’s October dud, and Contreras is a clear upgrade behind the plate. Walker has the potential to be National League Rookie of the Year and Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado anchor a solid lineup. St. Louis could indeed be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.