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Under the Radar Free Agent Target for the Cardinals

by Aaron Mullins

What’s the one aspect about the Cardinals that seems to be in good shape? Probably the Starting Rotation right? And while it’s true that the Cardinals have a multitude of options for the 2019 rotation, I think the Cardinals should be in pursuit of another. Who is the mystery man?

Patrick Corbin

Why? Oh I’m glad you asked.

The Cardinals sent out 11 different pitchers to the mound this season to make a start. By seasons end, they will have just one starter who made over 30 starts at the Major League Level (Miles Mikolas).

They do have a number of players from their minor league system to make starts for both AAA and the Majors. Here are the Cardinals who have made double digit starts this season.

Miles Mikolas: 30 (MLB)

Jack Flaherty: 26 (MLB), 5 (AAA)

Luke Weaver: 25 (MLB)

John Gant: 18 (MLB), 8 (AAA)

Carlos Martinez: 18 (MLB)

Michael Wacha: 15 (MLB)

Austin Gomber: 10 (MLB), 11 (AAA)

Not to mention Wainwright made 7 starts of his own and Tyson Ross started 22 starts with San Diego before the Cardinals claimed him. The fact is, the Cardinals need more guys who can eat innings. Mikolas currently leads the team in innings pitched with 185.2 on the season. He looks to be on pace for 2 more starts this season, giving him 32. Jack Flaherty is on Pace for 33 starts between AAA and the Bigs.

The Cardinals rotation has had their fair share of injuries this season. Carlos Martínez was set to be the Ace and was looking to build on his previous two years of 195 or more innings.  Michael Wacha was having a fantastic year of his own before injuries halted his 2018 season. He attempted a few rehab outings, but clearly something wasn’t right. I’m a fan of John Gant, and I think he has an opportunity to become a permanent starter for the Cardinals, but there are some inconsistencies in his performance. I believe Weaver will have a bounce back year next season. It was his first full year as a starter and he had some growing pains. Don’t be surprised to see Flaherty regress next season as well.

Patrick Corbin gives you innings, quality innings at that. This season he is 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA over 195.0 innings. This is the 3rd season in his career with over 180 innings pitched.

Aaron Mullins on Twitter

Guy I’m low-key hoping the Cardinals make a play on during the off-season. Patrick Corbin: 11-6 | 3.09 ERA | 192.0 IP | 2.43 FIP | 1.03 WHIP | 2.0 BB/9 | 11.1 K/9 | Lefty that gets a ton of swings and misses. Low walk rate. Eats innings.

But there are other aspects of Patrick Corbin and his game that makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals.

1. His strikeout rate is among the best in baseball. He currently ranks 2nd in the NL with 11.2 SO/9.

2.  His walk rate is also among the best in baseball. He is 7th in the NL with  2.1 BB/9.

3. Corbin’s numbers are good, and analytics show they could be better. His ERA is 3.23 which is 9th in the NL. But his FIP is 2nd in the NL at 2.47. If the Cardinals defense fixes some of their issues, Corbin could thrive.

4. He would be a solid 2-3 starter. He is 5th in the NL in Pitching WAR with 4.4. Could you imagine sliding him into the rotation?

Miles Mikolas

Carlos Martínez

Jack Flaherty

Patrick Corbin

That’s a solid top 4.

This team could benefit from having another starter that can give them innings. The rotation was able to stay relevant with the young starters taking over, but some recent struggles make it difficult to gauge their ability to handle a full time rotation spot. Having Wacha, Reyes, or Weaver in the 5th spot is a good problem to have.

It’s not the Cardinals biggest need, but it could certainly be a valuable addition.

What are your thoughts?

Tweet me @AaronArchCity

Thanks for reading!

Aaron M.




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