St. Louis Cardinals: The silver lining to the most recent free agent news

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

The St. Louis Cardinals continue to make their way through Spring Training as other teams continue to add veteran pieces to their respective teams.

Over the last couple of weeks we have seen a desperate attempt from top free agent pitchers to land somewhere. Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn joined their new teams last week. Alex Cobb signed a deal with the Orioles yesterday. While many St. Louis Cardinals fans hoped for one of those three pitchers to be in a St. Louis uniform come March 29th, the team backed down from any such rumor or whisper.

I think many would agree they would have liked to have seen any of those three pitchers with the team in Spring Training. But even though they did not sign for the Cardinals, there is a positive side to all of this.

Remember not to long ago the Milwaukee Brewers took the off-season by storm when they traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain from free agency. But even with a bolstered lineup, everything seemed to come back to what they didn’t have: starting pitching. The consensus was, and probably still is, the Brewers were likely to contend with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs… IF they could bolster their rotation.

Fast forward two months and some changes, including the signings of the aforementioned players, and the Brewers STILL do not have a better rotation than the St. Louis Cardinals or the Chicago Cubs. Therein lies the silver lining for the Cardinals this season.

While we sit and complain at times about who is struggling in the rotation, we forget other teams are trying to make themselves better as well. Realistically, the Brewers were a Jake Arrieta away from making it extremely tough on the St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff chances this season. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb were not bad back up plans either.

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But the mere fact that none of those three pitchers will face the Cardinals on a regular basis is an absolute boost to the Cardinals’ playoff chances in 2018. I never though the Brewers were the second best team in the NL Central, but this more than solidifies that thought for me.

Of course, though, we all saw what happened last year. The St. Louis Cardinals played inferior to the Brewers even with a better rotation than them last year. So we can’t exactly count out the Brewers from being contenders in the NL Central.

You also have to consider the possibility the Brewers trade for starting pitching before the season starts or during the season.

If I am the St. Louis Cardinals, I am putting every bit of my effort towards making the early NL Central games against the Brewers count. Six of their first twelve games come against Brewers (three away, three at home). It’s a perfect opportunity to put the Brewers in a hole early on and establish some order in terms of who is truly contending in the NL Central.

If you’re still feeling a little worried about where the Cardinals and Brewers stack up, Fangraphs projects the Cardinals to win 87 games versus the Brewers’ 78 games. This just shows how clear the need for starting pitching was for the Brewers. By not getting anything, the Cardinals still have the inside track to at least one of the two Wild Card spots according to the rest of the projections.

For those complaining still about not having a better rotation than the Cubs, I get it. But the Cardinals’ pitchers have done extremely well this spring. With some starts being rough, many of the pitchers have done very well this spring. It gives me a bit of hope going into the 2018 season.

Would it have been nice to have Arrieta, Lynn or Cobb anchor the rotation. Absolutely. But at the end of the day we look to be heading in a good direction heading into the season opener in New York. Come next Thursday, the real test of strength begins.

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Was there any other points you took away from the Arrieta, Lynn, and Cobb signings that have an impact on the Cardinals’ season? Let me know in the comments below.