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Cardinals Weekly Watch: Adam Wainright's final Opening Day

Fansided 3/20/2023 Kevin Henry
© Provided by Fansided

After winning the National League Central in 2022, all eyes are on the St. Louis Cardinals to repeat as division champions in 2023. Here's what to watch on Opening Day and beyond.

The Cardinals filled one of their biggest needs this offseason by signing catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million deal. Not only did the Cardinals find a replacement for future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina behind the plate, but also grabbed Contreras away from the arch-rival Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis also welcomes back one of the most talented infields in baseball today, including reigning National League Most Valuable Player Paul Goldschmidt at first base and 10-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado at third base. The duo is expected to hold down the middle of the order for the Cardinals and provide a powerful one-two punch at the plate.

Lars Nootbaar (Japan) and Tyler O'Neill (Canada) both had impressive showings in the World Baseball Classic for their respective countries, adding even more excitement to what the two young outfielders could do in 2023. There is also plenty of buzz around the Cardinals surrounding top prospect Jordan Walker, who turned heads at spring training with his power. When will the young outfielder get his chance to showcase his skills at the MLB level.

Opening week for the Cardinals includes a three-game series at home against the Toronto Blue Jays in an interleague matchup between postseason contenders that fans won't want to miss.

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Here's what St. Louis Cardinals fans should be watching for this week:

Opening Day: March 30 vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Projected Pitching Matchup: Adam Wainwright vs. Alek Manoah

The 41-year-old Wainwright returns for his final MLB season and is looking to bounce back from a disappointing end to the 2022 season. After being hit by a comebacker in an August 28 start against Atlanta, Wainwright posted a 7.32 ERA in his final six starts, then didn't make an appearance during Philadelphia's sweep of St. Louis in the NL Wild Card round. Wainwright will be looking to begin his final season on a high note, and this will be the first time that Cardinals fans will have a chance to watch him team up with Contreras behind the plate.

April 1 vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Projected Pitching Matchup: Miles Mikolas vs. Kevin Gausman

Like Wainwright, the 34-year-old Mikolas returns to the Cardinals rotation after pitching on the mound for Team USA during the recent World Baseball Classic. The veteran right-hander posted a 3.29 ERA/3.87 FIP/1.033 WHIP in 202.1 innings spanning 33 games (32 starts) last season, vastly improving on his numbers from the 2021 campaign. Mikolas was particularly dominant in his final six games spanning September and October (2.38 ERA in 34.0 innings), earning him a start in the NL Wild Card round against Philadelphia.

April 2 vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Projected Pitching Matchup: Jordan Montgomery vs. Chris Bassitt

The 30-year-old Montgomery was acquired at the 2022 MLB trade deadline, solidifying the St. Louis rotation for last year's postseason run. Signed through the 2023 season, Montgomery will be looking to build upon a solid debut in 11 starts with the Cardinals (3.11 ERA/3.08 FIP/1.084 WHIP in 63.2 innings) to prove he should be a part of the St. Louis rotation in the years to come. The southpaw endeared himself to Cardinals fans by throwing a complete game, one-hit shutout against the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 22, part of an incredible four-game stretch where Montgomery allowed just 13 hits and one run in his first 25.2 innings as a Cardinal.

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