Pitching was a major concern for the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals. How could they try to improve it in 2022?
There are many interesting starting pitchers on the free-agent market this season. With Oli Marmol set as the new manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s obvious the team will be taking on a new analytical approach.
Fans may see the new approach in how the pitching staff is handled in 2022. The team could implement the newer approach of using an opener, middle innings guys, and then dip into the relief pitchers.
This would definitely alleviate the concerns of overusing arms before the middle of the season. It would also help prevent what became a season-long issue for the Cardinals in overuse of the bullpen.
While the 2021 team was without its ace Jack Flaherty for much of the season, the team relied heavily on Kwang Hyun Kim, Carlos Martinez, and Johan Oviedo until they had to be shut down for the season.
Kim was moved to the bullpen, Oviedo was sent to AAA Memphis and we didn’t see Martinez again due to injury. While the team was able to rely on veteran ace Adam Wainwright, they did have to scour for arms the remainder of the season getting Wade LeBlanc, Jon Lester, J.A. Happ in free-agent signing and trades.
The team was also able to get Miles Mikolas back prior to the end of the season as well as Dakota Hudson and Flaherty. Jake Woodford also proved to be an excellent arm for the Cardinals from AAA Memphis.
Next season the Cardinals will have Wainwright, Mikolas, Hudson, and Flaherty available.
There was a discussion of moving Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks into starting roles. It would be curious to see if they became openers and were only used for two to three innings, as they have previously been used in closing roles. Reyes had a terrible couple of months at the end of the 2021 season. Hicks was shut down due to injury. He was getting stretched out as a starter in the Arizona Fall League but came home after a couple of weeks.
It’s unclear who the team will have back as relievers, but seemingly, the team should have arms available for situations thus preventing the overuse we saw with relievers Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, and Giovanny Gallegos.
As was the case in 2021, anything is possible health wise. Teams should definitely be prepared for whatever may happen.
It would seem with Marmol and pitching coach Mike Maddux being open to using the analytics, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak may be open to spending to get some pitching help as well as all take care of all of the team’s other needs.
Let’s discuss some other potential arms the Cardinals may look into for 2022.