Home Baseball St. Louis Cardinals by Position – Plenty of Depth at Starter

St. Louis Cardinals by Position – Plenty of Depth at Starter

by Aaron Mullins

New of the Carlos Martinez “shut-down” spread like wildfire across all forms of social media. If you haven’t been informed on the situation, Carlos will be shut down from throwing for two weeks to focus on his shoulder strength. The front office doesn’t seem too pleased about the situation. He might not be ready to be a starter by Opening Day.

Mark Saxon on Twitter

Cards exec John Mozeliak not totally thrilled with Carlos Martinez’s winter training regimen: “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.

Derrick Goold on Twitter

Carlos Martinez’s setback means #Cardinals must reconcile whether he didn’t adhere to offseason program or the program didn’t work. Teams asks for “diligence and dedication” from righthander to correct recurring issue. #stlcards https://t.co/N7nuM1RMZ2

Mo has a right to upset if Carlos didn’t stick to his program. They should hold him accountable in that situation.  Martinez shouldn’t be the only pitcher the Cardinals should be weary of. Wacha and Wainwright as well as Martinez had injuries this past year.  Regardless of whether Martinez followed his program or not, the Cardinals do have plenty of depth. But is there a move that could be made to help bolster the rotation? Let’s find out. (Stats below are as Starters)

1. Miles Mikolas: 18-4 | 2.83 ERA | 200.2 IP | 1.07 WHIP | 29 BB | 146 SO |

Mikolas was certainly the feel good story of 2018. The Cardinals signed him to a 2 year deal coming from a stint in Japan, and he excelled immediately in the Cardinals organization. He finished 6th in the NL Cy Young voting which exceeded many expectations. His style of pitching should hopefully carry over well into the 2019 season and I think he should be slated as the Opening Day Starter. He has certainly earned it.

2. Jack Flaherty: 8-9 | 3.34 ERA | 151 IP | 1.10 WHIP | 59 BB | 182 SO |

Flaherty took over a rotation spot relatively early on in the season and he was rolling from the get go. He sported a ridiculous 10.8 K/9 on the season and I can see him becoming a solid 1-2 starter long term at the Major League level. His style reminds many of Chris Carpenter which is certainly a high honor for the 23 year old. Many young pitchers regress in their second season, but Flaherty could be an exception to the rule. Looking forward to seeing what he can do.

3. Michael Wacha: 8-2 | 3.20 ERA | 84.1 IP | 1.23 WHIP | 36 BB | 71 SO |

What else can be said about Wacha other than he is an injury waiting to happen. But in fairness, he pitched pretty well in 2018 while he was healthy. He could put together a solid season going into his free agent year, but I’ll need to see it to believe it. For the 2nd time in his career, Wacha did take a no hitter into the 9th inning, losing it on a Colin Moran single. He has good stuff, but hasn’t shown he can be healthy.

4. Adam Wainwright: 2-4 | 4.46 ERA | 40.1 IP | 1.46 WHIP | 18 BB | 40 SO |

Wainwright like Wacha has been bitten by the injury but the last few seasons leading to limited time on the mound. Waino did look sharper near the end of the season prompting the Cardinals to sign him to a very incentive based deal. If Waino pitches well, he gets paid. Pretty simple. If he returns to the Waino of old they have an ace but more realistically he might shift to the bullpen before seasons end.

5. Alex Reyes

Reyes can be a game changer if he manages to stay on the field. It’s up for debate on whether or not Reyes should see time in the rotation or in the bullpen, but I’d lean towards the rotation. The front office seems content with him as a starter long term and I agree with that evaluation. He only made one start in 2018 for the Cardinals and he was lifted after just four innings of work.

6. John Gant: 5-6 | 3.61 ERA | 97.1 IP | 1.30 WHIP | 48 BB | 81 SO |

Gant was a serviceable starter who in my opinion might be the next guy up if Mikolas, Martinez, Flaherty, Wacha, or Wainwright go down. I do think long term Reyes is the better option, but there is no guarantee he will be ready to start by Opening Day. Gant was also solid out of the bullpen, so expect Gant to be used in a number of ways.

7. Austin Gomber: 5-2 | 4.26 ERA | 57.1 IP | 1.51 WHIP | 22 BB | 53 SO |

For at least the beginning part of Gomber’s trek through the Majors he looked pretty good. Unfortunately for him a couple duds down the line inflated his numbers. Gomber struggled in the month of September having an ERA of 9.15 across 5 outings. Being a lefty helps Gomber’s chances of cracking a rotation spot sometime in the near future.

8. Dakota Hudson (No Appearances as a Starter)

Hudson didn’t make any starts at the Major league level, but was a very solid starter for AAA Memphis where he was 13-3 with a 2.50 ERA. He pitched pretty well out of the bullpen for the Cardinals in 2018, but his low strikeout rate combined with a high walk rate shows some concerns.

9. Daniel Ponce De Leon: 0-2 | 2.79 ERA | 19.1 IP | 1.09 WHIP | 6 BB | 22 SO |

Ponce De Leon has done nothing but produce in the minor leagues so I was happy he got a shot last season and he didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately for him the offense wasn’t able to bail him out and he suffered a couple tough losses. He took a no hitter 7 innings against Cincinnati on July 23rd but was lifted after throwing 116 pitches in that span.

That’s certainly a lot of depth, but as you can tell there are still a lot of questions surrounding all 9 of these guys. Adding another veteran prescense may not be the worst idea. In 2018 the Cardinals had 11 different pitchers make a start. Only one of those pitchers starter over 30 games at the big league level (Mikolas). Luke Weaver was traded to Arizona as part of the deal for Paul Goldschmidt, while Tyson Ross went to the Detroit Tigers via Free Agency this off-season. But there is an interesting name that is still available that is being thrown out there.

Dallas Keuchel – 12-11 | 3.74 ERA | 204.2 IP | 1.31 WHIP | 58 BB | 153 SO |

Now to be fair, he isn’t the same pitcher he was back in his Cy Young season of 2015. But he still brings a lot to the table. Like I mentioned the Cardinals only had one starter with over 30 starts (Flaherty made 33 between AAA and MLB). Keuchel has averaged 29 starts over the last 5 years and has reached 200 innings in 3 of those 5 years. Durability is not something to shy away from. The fact that he is a lefty is a bonus for some situations but nothing overwhelms me with his splits. You also have to remember that Mikolas, Wainwright, and Wacha come off the books next season leaving you with some holes to fill. While the younger guys coming up show promise, are the Cardinals willing to stake their future in them entirely? A veteran presence such as Keuchel could go a long way.

The Cardinals still have options when it comes to the Starting Rotation. Carlos Martinez is still a valuable member of the rotation as long as they can diagnose and figure out what he needs to do in the future. Mikolas and Flaherty will be fun to watch early on in the season as we hope they don’t have any regressions and I’m curious to see if any more kids get a shot at some starts during the year.

What are your thoughts. Send me a tweet @AaronArchCity.

Thanks for Reading

Aaron M.


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