MLB St Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals: Projected Roster for 2013 MLB Playoffs

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2013 St. Louis Cardinals Postseason Roster

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 MLB playoffs have officially begun! It is one of the most wonderful times of the year for any sports fan, but especially a baseball fan. There are win-or-go-home Wild Card games in both the NL and AL as three teams from each league wait for the divisional series to begin. One team that will have their eye on the NL Wild Card game is the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals will be preparing to take either the Cincinnati Reds or Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS.

The Cardinals have great experience playing both the Reds and Pirates. The three teams compete in the NL Central division and have played one another numerous times this year. The Cardinals will have home-field advantage in the series regardless of who they play because they clinched the NL’s best record and won the Central division.

No matter who they play, the Cardinals have difficult decisions to make. The MLB playoff roster allows teams to carry the standard 25-man roster and it must be submitted before the series begins.

The Cardinals will be looking at a lot of young players on the roster and many of them are inexperienced and unproven. It will be a very interesting posteason for the Cards and it is now the time that the young guys earn their stripes.

There will be experience on the roster as well. There are guys who have played in big games and guys who know how to win in October.

Here is a look at who I believe will be representing the NL Central Champion Cardinals in this year's playoffs.

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Starting Lineup

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

2B Matt Carpenter, CF Jon Jay, LF Matt Holliday, RF Carlos Beltran, C Yadier Molina, 1B Matt Adams, 3B David Freese, SS Daniel Descalso, SP

The Cardinals' lineup can be expected to remain the same as it was down the stretch run of the regular season.

Leadoff man Matt Carpenter came up one hit short of 200 on the season, but his presence in the lineup will surely be seen in the playoffs. Carpenter’s OBP was .392, good for 11th in all of baseball. Carpenter also had an amazing year driving runners in and finished with 78 RBIs, which is a ton for a leadoff man.

Along with Carpenter, the rest of the lineup has stepped up with guys on base. The Cardinals led all of baseball with a batting average of .330 with runners in scoring position and shattered their club record of .311 set by the 1974 team.

Expect these faces to be the same throughout the playoffs and expect the bats to stay alive throughout the postseason!

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Starting Rotation

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In order: RHP Adam Wainwright, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Lance Lynn

The Cardinals' pitching staff stepped up this year and surprised a lot of people. Having lost ace Chris Carpenter before the season, Wainwright had to step up and take over that role. He absolutely did. Wainwright finished with an overall record of 19-9 and had an earned run average of 2.94. He also recorded 219 strikeouts, which was sixth-best in MLB.

Along with Wainwright, rookie Shelby Miller stepped up in a big way for the Cardinals. Miller, who pitched late last year, finished with a record of 15-9 and had an earned run average of 3.06 to go along with 169 strikeouts.

Easily the biggest surprise of the staff this year was Joe Kelly. Kelly, a pitcher known for coming out of the bullpen, stepped in when Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook were injured and he showed the organization he was worth a starting spot. Kelly finished with a record of 10-5 and had an earned run average of 2.69. Even more impressive was the fact that Kelly won a majority of his games on the road and proved he can be a reliable weapon when the Cardinals have to travel this postseason.

The Cardinals can also expect Lance Lynn to start this postseason. Lynn, an All-Star, pitched well down the stretch for the team after a few bumps in the road during the middle of the season. Lynn has a lot of postseason experience, so he can be a reliable starting option for this team.

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Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Left-Handers: Kevin Siegrist, Randy Choate, Sam Freeman

Right-Handers: Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Edward Mujica, Michael Wacha

The Cardinals are an organization known for producing powerful young arms in their farm system and developing the young men so that they can be dominant for the big league club. This year is no different.

The team has very explosive young relief pitchers in Kevin Siegrist, Sam Freeman, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha.

You can expect all four of these young men to have a big impact during the playoffs when called upon. Each one of these pitchers is considered a flamethrower. You will consistently see each one of them hitting 95 mph and up throughout any of their appearances. I would expect Mike Matheny to rely on these guys a lot during the postseason.

Flamethrowers aren't the only thing the Cardinals have on their bullpen staff. Veteran Randy Choate is a craft lefty who throws a lot of breaking balls and has a deceiving motion that is very useful against left-handed power hitters. Along with Choate, youngster Seth Maness has been called upon many times to get big outs, and he as done just that. Numerous times throughout the season, Maness has come into games and induced inning-ending double plays and is known as the “double play machine” on the Cardinals.

The one guy in the bullpen that is difficult to read is Edward Mujica. Mujica was the closer for most of the year and did a good job in the role, taking over for injured Jason Motte. He finished with 37 saves and had an earned run average of 2.78. However, Mujica showed signs of fatigue down the stretch and started to get banged around the park at times. I’d expect Matheny to turn to him on occasion, but I would expect Rosenthal, Siegrist and Martinez to get a majority of batters late in games.

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Position Bench Players

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Infielders: Pete Kozma, Kolten Wong

Catchers: Tony Cruz

Outfielders: Shane Robinson, Adron Chambers

The Cardinals' bench may be the one downside of this year’s team. There is not much depth on the bench and many of the players are unproven.

The most experienced players off the bench are shortstop Pete Kozma, catcher Tony Cruz and outfielder Shane Robinson. They will be the three players Matheny relies on to come in late to either steal a base, play good defense or possibly execute a sacrifice bunt. Aside from any of the starters getting injured, I wouldn’t expect a lot of playing time to be seen from guys on the bench.

A question mark for the Cardinals is Allen Craig. Craig was injured late in the season and has a foot injury that is believed to sideline him the entire postseason. Unfortunately for Craig, I think the Cardinals will keep him out. His presence will be missed. He hit .315 with 13 home runs and 97 runs batted in. However, expect him to be in the dugout and be a veteran presence for many of the younger players throughout the postseason.