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NL Central Review and Preview: The St. Louis Cardinals

Willson Contreras celebrates getting a hit for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals were surprisingly bad this year. Will that carry over to next season with a revamped rotation?

In a season marred by unexpected challenges, the St. Louis Cardinals (71-91) navigated a shocking down year in 2023. The highly consistent franchise found itself facing unforeseen hurdles, prompting introspection and a quest for revival in 2024.

As the dust settles on a season that fell far short of expectations, the Cardinals look to the future with hopes of redemption. The challenge looms large as they aim to regain their competitive edge, with the formidable Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds setting the standard in the division.

The 2023 campaign becomes a tale of resilience and anticipation, a precursor to the Cardinals’ determined efforts to reclaim their standing among baseball’s elite in upcoming years.

Month By Month

Spring Training and March

St. Louis led the National League in Spring Training with a 17-7 record across preseason play. The Cardinals dropped a wild Opening Day contest against the Toronto Blue Jays to go 0-1 in the month of March.

April: A Challenging Start (10-18)

In April, the St. Louis Cardinals faced a challenging start to the 2023 season, grappling with a 10-18 record. Transitioning from the offseason’s high expectations, the team encountered early hurdles, revealing areas demanding improvement. Most notably, they bafflingly moved C Willson Contreras off catcher and then moved him back there, all within the span of a couple weeks.

May: Hints of Improvement (15-13)

May brought hints of improvement for the Cardinals, as they secured a 15-13 record. A glimpse of resilience emerged, with the team showing signs of adapting to the evolving demands of the season.

June: Midseason Struggles (8-15)

However, June unfolded as a period of midseason struggles, concluding with an 8-15 record. The Cardinals encountered setbacks, exposing vulnerabilities that required strategic addressing.


July: A Tug-of-War (14-13)

Amidst a tug-of-war, July saw the Cardinals striving to find balance, ending the month with a 14-13 record. Flashes of potential mingled with ongoing challenges, marking a pivotal point in their journey.

August: The Uphill Battle Continues (11-16)

August presented an uphill battle for the Cardinals, concluding the month with an 11-16 record. The challenges persisted, requiring the team to recalibrate strategies and fortify their resolve. They sold at the trade deadline for the first time in many years.

September: A Closing Chapter (12-15)

As the season approached its closing chapter in September, the Cardinals secured a 12-15 record. The month became a reflection of the team’s collective determination to salvage the campaign and set a foundation for future revival.

The 2023 St. Louis Cardinals season became a tale of highs and lows, with each month bringing its unique set of challenges and opportunities. April marked a challenging start, setting the tone for a season that deviated from preseason expectations. May provided a glimmer of hope, revealing the team’s capacity for improvement and adaptation. However, midseason struggles unfolded in June, exposing vulnerabilities that required strategic addressing.

July became a pivotal point, a tug-of-war between potential and ongoing challenges. August presented an uphill battle, demanding recalibration and fortification. The closing chapter in September became a testament to the team’s collective determination to salvage the season, hinting at the resilience required for future revival. As the Cardinals reflect on the complexities of 2023, the lessons learned will undoubtedly shape their trajectory as they navigate the evolving landscape of Major League Baseball in the seasons to come.


The Cardinals suffered a down year in 2023, surprising many across baseball. St. Louis is not a franchise known for long rebuilds or small-market struggles, making the 71-91 year a true surprise.

I expect the Cardinals to bounce back in 2024, as there is too much talent on the roster to not reach the .500 mark. However, I do not see this team contending or reaching the postseason.

St. Louis will overtake the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers in 2024, but to expect a division crown or postseason berth is just a tad far-fetched. The Red Birds lack pitching depth and must figure out the rotation before contending once more in the NL Central.

Heading into 2024, the St. Louis Cardinals face a pressing need for pitching reinforcements. The fall-off of former ace SP Jack Flaherty, who was traded at the deadline and is now a free agent, leaves a void in their once-dominant pitching rotation. The quest for quality arms becomes paramount, emphasizing the team’s commitment to rebuilding and reloading as they navigate the complexities of Major League Baseball.

If anyone can right the ship and avoid a rebuild, it’s St. Louis. A team known for miracle turnarounds and devil magic, the Cardinals must find lightning in a bottle to return to relevance.

The Cardinals are the gold-standard in the NL Central. There is no way St. Louis has another season like 2023. With that said, the past season happened for a reason. Going 71-91 is no fluke, no matter which team in baseball does it. Finishing 20 games below .500 in a 162 season is too large a sample size to be a fluke.

However, I am giving the Cardinals a season to right the ship before I press the rebuild button and start to panic.

St. Louis surpasses .500 in 2024, but begins to re-load around the trade deadline in late July. Major changes take place next offseason, including a surprise free agent signing.

Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals (85-77) miss playoffs

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