St. Louis Cardinals: 5 Players Who Are on Track for a Bigger Role in 2013
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The fabric of an MLB franchise is ever-changing.
Stars come and go. Holes in the roster provide valuable opportunities for those previously in the background to shine. And for some, there's nothing more exciting than seeing a newcomer or an underdog step up and really contribute to their team.
We don't know what 2013 holds for the St. Louis Cardinals, but we can make some educated guesses.
Let's take a look at who might make an impact for the Redbirds this season.
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Matt Carpenter spent the offseason working on his homework assignment: learn how to play second base.
And according to manager Mike Matheny per Fox Sports, "He's making all the plays he's been asked to make. He's done a nice job."
One can only assume Carpenter will be in the starting lineup on Opening Day and the months following. Considering his impressive .294/.365/.463 line in 2012, he could become a key part of any Cardinals success in 2013.
Getting Carpenter's bat in the lineup may provide him with the ticket to a monster year.
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Shelby Miller has been one of the Cardinals' most exciting prospects for a few years now. And fans finally saw his anticipated MLB debut in 2012.
After some time in the bullpen, he got a chance to start in the final game of the season and didn't disappoint, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Miller is certain to be a fixture in the Cardinals rotation for years to come, but it remains to be seen whether he will take the open position as their fifth starter on Opening Day.
One way or another, Miller is sure to put his mark on the team's 2013 season.
Moving on to another young arm, Trevor Rosenthal spun the heads of fans (and hitters) with his 100 mph fastball out of the bullpen in 2012. "The Phenom" himself, Bryce Harper, called the reliever "en fuego."
There is a lot of talk among fans about the kind of year Rosenthal could have in 2013. Will he become a starter? Can he keep this up?
One thing is certain: Rosenthal seems to have found himself a home on the Cardinals roster and will definitely prove an important tool in Matheny's shed.
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It seems strange to say that Joe Kelly could play a bigger role in 2013, considering the fact that he filled in for the injured Jaime Garcia and helped take the Cardinals to the NLCS.
But if my predictions are correct, he will at least begin the year as a Redbirds starter. And that means more playing time for an already reliable pitcher.
Kelly will most likely bring up the rear in a rotation that previously held Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. He's performed well under pressure before, so he should do just fine with the weight of Carpenter and Lohse being gone partly on his shoulders.
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Jon Jay seems to be progressing each year of his MLB career.
His 2012 saw a .305 batting average and a .373 on-base percentage. Not to mention the fact that he's found himself in the highlight reels more and more often for his defensive work.
If Rafael Furcal is held back by his injuries, Jay would be a strong lead-off hitter. He might even find himself a Gold Glove contender in 2013.
The homegrown center fielder will no doubt prove important this coming season.