The St. Louis Cardinals would be wise to use a 6-man rotation for many reasons.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation is not one made up of young arms as some of the progressive clubs. That said, the rotation is not made up of washed-up arms (at least not yet). While some may believe that Wainwright is old and done, the veteran of the rotation is showing fire unmatched by others his age.
While Waino is the oldest of the starting pitchers, he is closely followed in age by Norris, Lyons, and Mikolas and then a drop in ages to Martinez and Wacha, and then to the really young arms of Weaver, Reyes, and Flaherty. Here’s a breakdown of the ages of the St. Louis Cardinals’ arms in question:
- Adam Wainwright, 36 years old
- Bud Norris, 32 years old
- Tyler Lyons, 30 years old
- Miles Mikolas, 29 years old
- Carlos Martinez, 26 years old
- Michael Wacha, 26 years old
- Luke Weaver, 24 years old
- Alex Reyes, 23 years old
- Jack Flaherty, 22 years old
Three of the starters have breached the 30-year mark wherein most pitchers begin the decline of their careers. Last year’s performance from Wainwright stood as example of the age decline which could be assumed to continue this season (if not for his self-report of being in better shape than he was in the past two seasons).
Norris has been called a washed-up starter which isn’t alleviated by his 32 years. Luckily, the St. Louis Cardinals did not necessarily sign Norris to be the fifth starter. The presumed fifth starter- Mikolas- hasn’t been favored by critics any better than Norris and HIS near-30 years aren’t alleviating these critiques.
Considering the ages, one positive to a 6-man rotation would be the lessened workload on certain pitchers. In other words, Martinez and Wacha may pitch every fifth day while others likes Wainwright and Mikolas could be allowed to skip a start by inserting Norris or Reyes or Flaherty into their slot.
The same could be true for Weaver. One worry the St. Louis Cardinals carried through 2017 was over-exposing Weaver to the Bigs. It would be very easy to argue that the same concern exists in 2018. Additionally, the Cardinals were conservative with Weaver’s innings count in 2017 and may look to only add a few additional innings this season. Lyons or others could fill in for him as needed.
Another positive to a 6-man rotation would be the protection from injury. Should Wainwright or another suffer time on the disabled list, the sixth man would already be in the “rotation” and would not need to bounce back and forth on the I-55 shuttle between St. Louis and Memphis.
A final positive would be the quick ability to replace high ERA and poor performance immediately as needed. Should a pitcher suffer through two games of rough outing then he could easily skip his next start or two and not be missed. This only happens if the St. Louis Cardinals carry the extra arm in the rotation.
Do any of these positives make sense enough to take a bench spot away from a pen arm or another infielder? Perhaps the answer lies in the negatives. Let’s look.