Chicago Cubs: Pitching a focus because it will make the difference in Central
By Jake Misener
St. Louis Cardinals’ addition of Ozuna a threat to the Cubs
Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals boosted their offense in a big way, trading for Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The Dominican Republic native comes off a 145 OPS+ 2017 campaign in which he slugged 37 homers and drove in 111 for the Fish.
His bat in the muddle of the Cardinals order adds a much-needed power threat amidst the likes of Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter. But, it won’t be Ozuna who decides the Cardinals’ fate. That weight lies on the shoulders of several promising young arms.
Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha headline the Redbirds staff. The former led the team in 2017, breaking 200 innings pitched for the first time. Wacha also made 30 starts, pitching to a 3.63 FIP – a far cry more appealing than his 4.13 earned run average.
A big loss, but plenty of talent
Similar to the Cubs, St. Louis loses a big piece in its rotation. While Chicago drops Jake Arrieta, the Cardinals will likely move on from right-hander Lance Lynn. The big hurler played an integral part in last year’s rotation, so it’s up to guys like Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty to pick up the slack. Of course, longtime veteran Adam Wainwright is in the mix, as well, but he’s hardly the hurler he once was.
That equates to 40 percent of the St. Louis rotation in the hands of largely inexperienced, albeit very talented young hurlers. Long-term, this could prove to be a big advantage for the Cardinals, but in the interim, could be a vulnerability to their NL Central aspirations.