5. Can Adam Wainwright return and put the team on his back?
The Cardinals lost staff ace Adam Wainwright to an Achilles tear in late April. Losing the staff ace early in the season can be a recipe for disaster, but the Cardinals instead went on to have one of the best pitching corps in the league last year, posting an MLB-best 2.94 ERA.
John Lackey (13-10, 2.77 ERA) stepped into the role of veteran leader as the team marched on to a 100-win season. With Lackey having departed for the rival Cubs, however, the Cardinals will be counting on Wainwright coming back better than ever and leading the charge.
The Cardinals will be facing a tough task in 2016 as they will have to go through the much-improved Cubs and still-looming Pittsburgh Pirates if they hope to repeat as division champs. The good news is that Wainwright made an exceptionally fast recovery from his injury and returned to the Cardinal bullpen during the postseason and he will be a full-go for spring training.
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