The 2017 Major League Baseball season is still over two months away, but it’s starting to feel like spring again. Let’s get excited about what’s in store for our St. Louis Cardinals this year.

April 2 vs. Chicago Cubs

The season starts with a bang, as the Cardinals host Opening Night with the first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year on ESPN. Cardinals-Cubs remains the most compelling storyline in St. Louis, but April 2 provides a new twist: it’ll be the first time the Cards play the Cubs as world champions since 1909. If the Redbirds intend to challenge the Cubbies for the National League Central crown, it has to start from day one, as every head-to-head game matters in a jostle for position.

April 8 vs. Cincinnati Reds

The Cardinals were surprisingly ineffective versus the Reds in 2016. They lost 10 of 19 and actually got outscored by Cincy, 101-96. One of the main reasons the Cardinals missed the playoffs last year was their inability to capitalize on gimme series. They have to take advantage of poor teams this year if they want to change that. This Saturday afternoon game is also Yadier Molina bobblehead day at Busch Stadium, so expect crowds to be big.

April 14 at New York Yankees

For the two winningest franchises in baseball history, the Cardinals and Yankees haven’t met all that often. They’ve played just nine times in regular season, including just one series since 2006. This is the Cardinals’ first trip to the new Yankee Stadium and their first game in the Bronx since June 15, 2003. Joe Girardi, New York’s manager, caught that game for the Cardinals. Yeah.

April 23 at Milwaukee Brewers

For all their struggles against the Reds, the Cardinals did manage to take advantage of one bottom-feeder on their schedule last year, going 13-6 against Milwaukee. The Brewers should be better this year, so it’ll be interesting to see if St. Louis can keep up that pace. The following day, the Cardinals have their fourth and final off day of the opening month.

April 25 vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Continuing the American League East interleague theme, the Cardinals host the Jays in late-April for a three-game set. Toronto, coming off the loss of Edwin Encarnacion, aren’t as scary as they’ve been the past two years, but they should still be formidable. The Cardinals and Blue Jays seem to be in about the same spot right now. Each is a bit past their prime, but still vying for a playoff spot, with an outside chance at a division crown. This series should be a good early-season gauge of how good the Cardinals really are.

May 5 at Atlanta Braves

After 20 years of Turner Field, the Braves move into a new home this year. This will be the Cardinals’ first visit to SunTrust Park. They’ll also get their first look at shortstop Dansby Swanson, a byproduct of the Jason Heyward-Shelby Miller deal. The Braves famously got a fortune from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Miller a year after the Cardinals dealt him away, including the talented Swanson, while Heyward left St. Louis after one season.

May 16 vs. Boston Red Sox

This is the home half of a home-and-home with the Red Sox, to whom the Cardinals will travel on August 15 for the latter two-game set. Boston has been the Redbirds’ nemesis over the years, dropping St. Louis in the 2004 and 2013 World Series. The squads have met on four occasions in the regular season, with the Cardinals taking two out of three each time.

May 23 at Los Angeles Dodgers

This begins a stretch of seven games against the Dodgers in 10 days, broken up with a three-game set at Coors Field. Where you’re at in the standings on Memorial Day is usually a good indication of where you’ll end up, so it’s important that the Cardinals are in good shape after the stretch. It’s conceivable that the Cardinals are forced to face Clayton Kershaw twice in ten days, which is never good news.

June 2 at Chicago Cubs

A Friday matinee, this will be the Cardinals’ first visit to Wrigley Field of the season. It comes a little later than usual, but it should still be a lot of fun.

June 18 at Baltimore Orioles

Another AL East matchup, this time against the O’s. It’s a little strange that the Cardinals are again schedule to go to Baltimore, where they’ve played six times since 2011. Meanwhile, the Orioles haven’t been to St. Louis since 2003. The next day, the Cardinals have their second of three consecutive Monday off days.

July 9 vs. New York Mets

The final game before the All-Star Break, it’s also the final game of a ten-game homestand. Needless to say, it’s safe to assume that the Cardinals will see some good pitching from the Mets in the three-game set.

July 14 at Pittsburgh Pirates

The Cardinals will have to get to work right away after four days off. They embark on a tough ten-game road trip against should-be contenders Pittsburgh, the Mets, and the Cubs. Leading into the trade deadline, this will set the tone for what moves the Cardinals should or should not make by July 31. A good trip and the season will look promising, drop over half the games and St. Louis will look like pretenders.

July 30 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Cardinals play their final game before the trade deadline, a Sunday afternoon game at Busch Stadium. That should give general manager John Mozeliak plenty of time to make up his mind on some trade offers that will be hanging in the balance.

August 7 at Kansas City Royals

This is the first of two games at Kauffman Stadium, followed by two against the Royals at Busch. The interstate rivalry is always fun, but these Royals could have a whole different look by August. If things aren’t going well, they could decide to blow it up with a bulk of their core heading towards free agency.

August 27 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The final interleague matchup of the year for St. Louis, the Cardinals will have seen every AL East team by this point. The AL East is no easy division to navigate, but if the Cardinals can win nine or 10 of their 16 games vs. AL East teams this year, they will have done well.

September 7 at San Diego Padres

This wraps up a long, 10-game road trip that includes back-to-back four-game sets on the West Coast. The Cardinals take on the Brewers for two, followed by four in San Francisco, concluding with four in San Diego. West Coast trips are always tricky, so it should be interesting to see how the Cards fare. After this, they play only NL Central games to conclude the season.

September 28 vs. Chicago Cubs

If things go right for St. Louis, this series will have a ton of meaning. A four-game penultimate series, the Cards should hope to be within striking distance of the division title with a chance to turn things their way against the Cubs. If not, they could head into the final series against the Brewers needing some help to get a Wild Card spot.

Image Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports