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3 players who could make or break Cardinals World Series chances

Fansided 2/6/2023 Miranda Remaklus
© Provided by Fansided

Expectations are riding high for the St. Louis Cardinals before Spring Training begins. Which players could make or break the club's chances for a World Series championship? 

Pitching remains a concern heading into the 2023 season for the Cardinals. Still, with the return of key players and high hopes for the organization's top rookie prospect, St. Louis fans have reason to be excited.

Adam Wainwright leads a starting rotation that consists of Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Montgomery, and a fifth option could include Steven Matz, Matthew Liberatore, or Dakota Hudson. It's a nice mix, but it ranges in age and experience. With that age and experience come varying levels of trust. Thankfully, the Cardinals have several options, from Andre Pallante to some minor leaguers that could join the team throughout the season.

The bullpen has many possibilities, with Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos leading the closing efforts. Pallante will likely pitch from the bullpen with Chris Stratton, Jordan Hicks, Wilking Rodriguez, and others.

Another issue the Cardinals will address during Spring Training is the everyday line-up. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt lead a team that added All-Star free agent catcher Willson Contreras. Andrew Knizner and Ivan Herrera will be available for backup. Tommy Edman returns to the middle infield with Paul DeJong, Nolan Gorman, and Brendan Donovan.

The outfield has several questions. Tyler O'Neill is looking to return to form in left field. Dylan Carlson looks to bounce back in center field. Lars Nootbaar is projected to be the team's right fielder. But there remains hope that top-prospect Jordan Walker breaks camp with the Cardinals and plays right fielder or is a designated hitter option.

Let's discuss who could make or break the Cardinals' chances for their 12th World Series championship.

Ryan Helsley could make or break the Cardinals chances

In 54 games in 2022, Helsley had 19 saves out of 23 opportunities and seven holds. He pitched 64.2 innings, giving up 28 hits, nine earned runs, and 20 walks while striking out 94 batters. He had a 1.25 ERA. He was an NL All-Star. But he had a bad outing in the 2022 NL Wild Card game, earning a loss and a 36 ERA.

Helsley hurt the team in the postseason after not being entirely honest about a finger sprain and how it affected the grip on his pitches.

While manager Oli Marmol remains complementary of Helsley and admires his hard-throwing pitches, here's hoping Hels will be more open about his injuries and how he feels, especially in big game moments.

When Helsley is healthy and on, he is a flame-throwing pitcher that brings hitters to their knees. Cardinal fans can hope the team gets that version of Helsley for 2023. If so, he could help bring home a World Series title for St. Louis,

Cardinals' pitcher Jack Flaherty could make or break the team's shot at World Series

This 2023 season is huge for Jack Flaherty.

He will enter into free agency after this season and will look to regain his 2019 form that seemed unbeatable. While the 2021 season was off to a hot start after a COVID shortened 2020 season, he's struggled since his May 31, 2021, start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was removed from the game with an oblique strain and has struggled to get back healthy since then. He worked with the oblique strain and shoulder issues that hampered his comeback effort.

Flaherty and Cards president of baseball operations John Mozeliak are speaking positively about the star pitcher's efforts this offseason. New catcher Willson Contreras is excited to work with him. Flaherty is inspired to have an excellent season and help Cardinals legend Adam Wainwright retire on top with a championship.

Fans have a variety of opinions on Flaherty and what happens this season and beyond. One thing is certain, how Flaherty could make or break this season for the Cardinals' World Series hopes.

It would be amazing to see Flaherty have a season surpassing some fans' expectations.

Cardinals outfielder Tyler O'Neill could make or break the team's WS shot

After a 2022 season that began with a 5-RBI home opener for O'Neill, it was a shock to see him struggle with injuries to his hands, arms, and hamstring muscles for the remainder of the season.

O'Neill struggled mightily and never became that extra impact bat in the lineup to help Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. O'Neill seemed to spend most of the season on the injured list or rehabilitating in Memphis. While he did well with Triple-A Memphis, he couldn't put it together with the major league club.

O'Neill was said to have been struggling mentally as he had to go to arbitration for his 2022 contract. The 2023 season's contract is already covered with a $4.95 million deal.

O'Neill made a change to his workout routine that has him working on plyometrics to improve the power in his legs. Known for his power-lifting abilities, he is working on tapering down this effort so he doesn't overdo his workouts.

Gaining consistency from the slugger and getting O'Neill's Gold Glove defense back in left field will significantly help this team. Getting the version of O'Neill the team had in 2021 could boost the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 2023.

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