St. Louis Cardinals: Dissecting the team’s pitching options

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 11: Johan Oviedo #59 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the second inning at Busch Stadium on April 11, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 11: Johan Oviedo #59 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the second inning at Busch Stadium on April 11, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Starting pitching has been a weak point for the St. Louis Cardinals to start the year. What other options do they have for the rotation?

The St. Louis Cardinals have had a historic organization, with some big names like Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols both at one point being on the team. The front office spent the offseason putting together a roster that could be just as dangerous. Since their trade for Nolan Arenado this past offseason, and he has quickly become a big piece to the puzzle the Cardinals have been missing the past couple of seasons.

With that being said, the Cardinals’ deepest part of their roster is their pitching. The Cardinals had Miles Mikolas injured for 2020, Adam Wainwright signed back with the team, and Jack Flaherty finished the 2020 season extremely strong.

There are a lot of solid points in the Cardinals rotation, but the 2021 season has put a lot more pressure on the Cardinals due to multiple injuries that have struck the Cardinals rotation.

Miles Mikolas

Miles Mikolas was the Cardinals destined ace going into the 2019 season after a fantastic 2018 season. “The Lizard King” was looking as if he was trying to earn his rightful spot in the MLB, and the Cardinals rotation. Mikolas’ 2018 season was a memorable one as he finished the season 18-4, posting a 2.83 ERA, 146 strikeouts, 29 walks, and a 1.07 WHIP.

With a great decline statistically in 2019, he was looking to bounce back going into the 2020 season. The 2020 season was a roller coaster, but Mikolas missed it while recovering from flexor tendon injury. He was looking towards the 2021 comeback season in hopes of getting back to where he was in the 2018 season.

Miles Mikolas suffered some setbacks though while Spring Training was going on that made it so he’d start the 2021 season on the IL. Currently rehabbing in the alternate training site, he’s still looking to be a big part of the Cardinals’ success through the 2021 season.

The concern with Mikolas is that he has not pitched in a game since 2019, and with that the Cardinals don’t know which Mikolas they are going to get. Miles Mikolas when he first got into the league with the Rangers, underperformed expectations, in which he ended up back overseas until signed by the Cardinals in 2018. In 2018, he showed impressive control with his pitches and the ability to be an ace. However, in 2019 he struggled majorly with control.

The Cardinals are still unsure of which Mikolas they are going to get, but they are counting on the return of Mikolas in hopes of him getting back to where he was in 2018.

Matthew Liberatore

The Cardinals fanbase was very irate after seeing how well Randy Arozarena performed last postseason, but the fanbase hasn’t lost just yet. The Cardinals acquired left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore from the Rays, and after this year’s spring training, Liberatore has a shot to make the team depending at some point in 2021.

The Cardinals had a left-handed starting pitcher in Austin Gomber, but now that he is gone, the team could be looking at Liberatore should they try to mix him into the rotation later on in the season. The tall left-hander has exceptional offspeed that allows him to be a great option and a possible future star of the Cardinals rotation. With a heavy-breaking curveball, a solid fastball and the ability to locate the pitches on the paint, Liberatore has a lot to offer.

Liberatore pitched in five games this spring training, but what was most memorable for his spring training is his appearance against the Nationals. While facing all but the Nationals starting lineup, he excelled through his three innings of work. He showed he could arise to the occasion, and he didn’t disappoint. Liberatore who was thought to be another year or two away from competing could find himself a spot on the Cardinals roster to prove what he could do against true MLB talent.

Kwang Hyun Kim

Cardinals fans were ready to see how well KK would do in a full season of Cardinals baseball before the arm injuries promoted a delayed start to his season. With a return this Saturday, Kim is looking to get back to the pitcher he showed last season. The Cardinals have a lot of potential this season, and with a rotation consisting of Kim, Wainwright, Flaherty, and Mikolas.

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Kwang Hyun Kim is a special pitcher, and if he can put on the same performances this season as he did last, he can be another top-end starter. Last season, Kim pitched in eight games, and finished the season with a 1.62 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 12 walks, and only a 1.026 WHIP. With statistics showing that, it’s hard not to believe he could be a very big factor looking forward even if he regresses some.

Johan Oviedo

Johan Oviedo is going to be a factor moving forward for the Cardinals rotation. With a recent call-up and a lot of movement going on in the Cardinals bullpen, Oviedo is likely to get his chance in the rotation at some point this season. The 6’5” right-hander has shown the ability to be a very talented pitcher for the Cardinals. And after his performance against the Brewers, it was on full display.

Oviedo was called up prior to the game against the Brewers on April 11 and didn’t disappoint in his 4.2 innings. Oviedo showed lockdown-caliber stuff and only allowed one hit, two walks, and four strikeouts pitching in a game he wasn’t expecting to be in. With a lockdown performance against the Brewers after a terrible start by Daniel Ponce de Leon, he was then re-assigned to the Cardinals alternate training site for the time being.

With an excellent outing from Oviedo, it’s very possible we’ll see Oviedo back with the Cardinals very soon.

Next. The wonderful world of Yadier Molina batting cleanup. dark

The Cardinals have a lot of talent in the farm system, and the way the Cardinals have played so far, there is a more than likely chance we’ll see them at some point this season. The Cardinals are a big fan of calling players up in order to maintain a bullpen that is ready, and have multiple pitchers good to go day after day. The number of pitchers we could see this year could be very fun for the Cardinals fan base, and the competition is heating up, so buckle up for a fun ride this season.