ESPN’s Olney ranks St. Louis Cardinals with 4th-best pitching rotation


From December 26th until January 1st, ESPN senior writer Buster Olney is looking at the top ten whatevers in Major League Baseball. Today, he looks at the top ten pitching rotations.
Sep 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) celebrates with starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) after a game against the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium. Wacha threw 8.2 innings allowing one hit and striking out nine as St. Louis defeated Washington 2-0. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Olney ranks the St. Louis Cardinals with the 4th-best pitching rotation. Even with a core three of Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha, I think it’s kind of low.

Olney ranks the Detroit Tigers in first place. This is completely understandable and even one that I would agree with. The Tigers have two Cy Young Award winners in their core trio of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez. Rick Porcello should be able to take advantage of what the new Tigers defense has to offer.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the second spot. What helps them here is the 1-2 punch of CYA winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The very two pitchers that gave me reasons to not be so optimistic coming into the 2013 National League Championship Series. It made me happy that the Cards finished with the best record in baseball, rather than second in the NL.

I would flip the Cardinals and Washington Nationals. Olney ranks the Nats in 3rd and Cards in 4th. When it came to starting rotations in 2013, the Cardinals were second in ERA. That’s a Cardinals team that did not have Chris Carpenter throw a single inning. One that saw Jaime Garcia miss a large part of the season to injury. One that Jake Westbrook made 19 starts due to injury.

I expect Carlos Martinez and his power arm to join the rotation in 2014. With Jaime Garcia expected back in his rotation spot, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn will likely rejoin the bullpen, where Jason Motte is expected to get a spot, too. That’s not to take anything a way from them but there’s just not enough slots in the rotation for all seven pitchers. Going to a seven man rotation would take away from both the Cards bullpen and the bench.

Speaking of all these young power arms, Cardinals Hall of Fame second baseman/manager Red Schoendienst talked to Rick Hummel about them. Red compared the pitching to the 1966 season, his second year as the Cardinals manager.