Bold predictions for 2012: pitchers version

Updated: December 1, 2011, 7:14 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Being bold is fun! Yeah, yeah, we all know that sometimes going out on a speculative limb can backfire and look silly, but a month or so ago I laid out my bold fantasy predictions for hitters for each team in 2012, and it seemed to go over well, so here we go with the pitchers. I'll use the same order of teams that I did for the hitter blog entry, starting with the champs, then the runners-up, and then in wins order.

1. St. Louis Cardinals: This one seems a bit too easy and not so bold, but Adam Wainwright will return from Tommy John surgery and win 18 games, with an ERA around 3.00. In other words, he'll come back strong. But guess who led the Cardinals pitchers on the Player Rater this past season? It wasn't Chris Carpenter or Jason Motte. It was Fernando Salas, who neither started nor ended the season as closer, but in between saved 24 games with terrific peripherals. In 2012, I could see Motte saving 30 games with good peripherals and leading the Player Rater (among Cardinals pitchers) in the process, but I'd still prefer to have Wainwright, especially if he can be had after the top 20 or so starters, which he should. By the way, I don't want Jaime Garcia in 2012. I say his ERA tops 4.00 and there's an injury pending. Just a negative hunch I have about him.