Cardinals Rotation Poses More Questions Than Answers

Most MLB teams have a bonafide ace in their rotation. Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer are two pitchers you can trust with almost absolute certainty for a quality game. Carlos Martinez, while an above average pitcher, isn’t that caliber level of a player. 

Critics view Martinez as the ace of the Cardinals staff, but he doesn’t possess all of the qualities of a traditional ace. The Cardinals are hoping this can be his year to break out. 

Martinez will look to rebound from a 2017 campaign where he started 32 games, compiling a 12-11 record and a 3.64 ERA. 

Michael Wacha is slated as the No. 2 pitcher on the depth chart. Having started 30 games in 2017, Wacha ended with a 12-9 record and a 4.13 ERA. Wacha started six less games in 2016, finishing with a 7-7 record and an ERA of 5.09. You could label 2017 a bounce-back year; the stuff is there, but it’s the health of his throwing shoulder that remains a concern.

Adam Wainwright’s days are numbered. It’s tough to think about, but it’s a reality the Cardinals are preparing for. The velocity is down, his ERA is up and his health is a concern. Yet, Wainwright still believe he has the potential to be a top of the rotation pitcher and doesn’t want questions about retirement to become a distraction during the season. 

Miles Mikolas isn’t a name many are familiar with. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2014, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. Mikolas started 10 games and compiled a 2-5 record and an ugly 6.44 ERA. He returns to MLB after three seasons in Japan. 

The back-end of the rotation has the most promise in Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty.  Cardinals fans are familiar with Weaver, whether it be through his promise on the mound or in trade rumors. In 2017 Weaver appeared in 13 games, starting 10 of them and finishing with a 7-2 record and a 3.88 ERA.

Flaherty’s 2017 didn’t live up to expectations once he was called up. He’s still looking for his first major league win after making his debut last season. In 2017, Flaherty started five games, finishing with an 0-2 record and a 6.33 ERA.

Alex Reyes is expected to return at the beginning of May after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery. His role on the team isn’t clear, but he’s a power arm the Cardinals are excited to have back. 

Although this rotation doesn’t look explosive on paper, the Cardinals are confident their young arms can get the job done. When other teams pursued big signings in free agency, St. Louis did what it’s always done, make complimentary additions and bank on the young talent in the system. It’s worked out in the past, but with the changing landscape of free agency now, has John Mozeliak done enough to keep the team competitive?