St. Louis Cardinals: Time to upgrade the starting rotation

Jun 15, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) removes starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) removes starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

As the trade deadline approaches, the St. Louis Cardinals need to decide if they are going to be a buyer or a seller. If they are a buyer, perhaps trading for starting pitching could be on the horizon.

There has been much speculation about whether the St. Louis Cardinals will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. With the division still within reaching distance, many Cardinals fans have been vocal in upgrading the team. I am certainly one of those fans. For the last two weeks, I have pleaded with the Cardinals to upgrade their offense.

In a couple of our podcast episodes we talk about upgrading the offense. Writers like Dr. Michael Miles and Josh McDonald have also written about this topic as well. As great as upgrading the offense would be, I woke up this morning with a different attitude about the team. It’s not a novel concept, but I woke up thinking that maybe the St. Louis Cardinals need to go after starting pitching.

Related Story: Podcast Episode 7 recap

The biggest cause for concern: Michael Wacha.

Michael Wacha has been struggling as of late, and it’s something Derrick Goold, of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, highlighted this morning. If you haven’t read the piece, take the time to do so. The St. Louis Cardinals are obviously concerned for the young right-hander. The team has even considered a role in the bullpen.

Let’s take a look at his performances throughout the season:

It appears Wacha hit a wall in mid-May. Since his start against the Giants on May 19th, Wacha has only garnered one win, two losses, and a bunch of no decisions. I won’t rely on wins and losses to convey the story. Take a look at his ERA since May 19th as well. His ERA since that start sits right at 8.86. In other words, something just doesn’t seem right with Wacha. It’s time to realistically consider a move for a starting pitcher.

Who should the St. Louis Cardinals consider in their search?

Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana is a name that has been all over the trade market over the last year. He is a solid, left-handed pitcher from the Chicago White Sox. He would certainly make any team’s rotation better, but he has had his struggles this year.

I take his struggles with a grain of salt for one reason. For as often as his name is around the trade rumor mill, it would be hard to concentrate on pitching. The best thing that could have happened to teams inquiring about him is his inconsistency this year. Teams like the St. Louis Cardinals would certainly use this as leverage to bring down the asking price.

However, I believe once Quintana leaves Chicago, he will be free to get back to concentrating on pitching.

His pitching ability and team friendly contract certainly appeal the highest to a team like the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals will have to give up some young talent, but Quintana for a prolonged time in St. Louis would fill that void.

Jake Odorizzi

While Jake Odorizzi is not as well-known as Jose Quintana, he is a name that has floated around the St. Louis Cardinals organization more than once. He is a young right-handed pitcher out of Tampa Bay. His 2017 campaign has been about consistency. He has yet to have a start with more than four earned runs in a game. He honestly reminds me of what Michael Wacha could have been at this point in his career.

Odorizzi’s contract is also team friendly. He is in the final year of his initial contract before hitting arbitration in 2018. He wouldn’t become a UFA until 2020, giving the Cardinals enough time to restock the farm system with young talent.

The one thing that hinders a move for him is the play of the Tampa Bay Rays. They are 35-35 and 5.5 games back of first place. They also only sit one game back of the second wild card spot. If the Cardinals were able to acquire Odorizzi, it would take a pretty good collapse by the Rays over the next month and a half.

Next: Trading pieces for the Cardinals

I know some of you would like to see the St. Louis Cardinals call up some of their prospects. I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind it, but I think that is a move signaling the end of the season. I believe the Cardinals still have a chance to win this year. Upgrading the rotation seems like a viable option. Who knows? Maybe the Cardinals have already a plan.