Johan Oviedo might be the rotation option the St. Louis Cardinals need
St. Louis Cardinals are in need of a hero for their rotation. On Sunday, Johan Oviedo looked like exactly what they need.
With the St. Louis Cardinals rotation in tatters, the organization has needed their internal options to step up. The return of Kwang-hyun Kim helped steady things on Tuesday night, but the emergence of right-hander Johan Oviedo could stabilize things and launch it to a new level once Jack Flaherty returns in early August.
Oviedo was brilliant on Wednesday, starting the game with three no-hit innings while throwing only 30 pitches. He finished the game allowing zero runs in seven innings pitched while striking out six while not issuing a walk in a 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins. It was the longest outing of his career, with his 72.4 strike percentage being the third highest number by a Cardinals starting pitcher this season.
The Cardinals did not expect this kind of production out of Oviedo this season. He had shown glimpses of promise last season and at times this season, but was shuttled between the majors and minors in 2021, and had a hard time getting acclimated. But now that he has remained in St. Louis, he has stepped up recently to be one of their most important pitchers, with his slider becoming one of the toughest pitches to hit on the staff.
Oviedo, 23, has a 4.58 ERA in 35.1 innings this season with a 29/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But while he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings in his previous start against the Chicago Cubs, he looked dominant at times, with his three-pitch strikeout against Willson Contreras underscoring why the organization is so high on Oviedo.
If he is able to put it all together this season, Oviedo could completely transform the Cardinals rotation. The team still expects there to be growing pains, as there is with all young starters, so they will continue to scour the trade and free-agent markets looking for upgrades. But with Oviedo, the organization feels like he can be a long-term asset in the rotation and his recent success has given them a glimpse about what might be to come.