The St. Louis Cardinals can be creative with the pitching staff, especially if they give Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks a chance in the rotation.
The St. Louis Cardinals five-man rotation is set with Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Steven Matz, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson. Yet reports have emerged that they could add another starting pitcher before spring training to add depth to the unit.
It makes sense, considering each pitcher comes with either age or injury concerns. There is the possibility that the type of pitcher they look for is along the lines of someone like, say, Jon Lester. There is also the option of utilizing one of their relievers as a starter.
After all, there has been buzz for months that the Cardinals would entertain Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes as starters in 2022. Reyes has always felt more likely, of course, though each will be given a chance to earn the opportunity in spring training. Katie Woo of The Athletic offered a glimpse into what it would look like if one of them became the sixth starter:
“When the front office expresses a desire to experiment with Reyes and Hicks as starters,” Woo wrote, “the innings and workload would be severely decreased at the start, likely reserved for piggy-backing spot starts or contributing to bullpen games.”
With Reyes and Hicks’ injury histories, and neither having extensive workloads in previous seasons, this makes sense. They will be given an ample opportunity to earn it in spring and someone like Lester or another free agent along those lines should still be available in March.
There is also the presence of Jake Woodford, who posted a 2.51 ERA and did not allow a homer in five starts (six appearances) in September. Both he and Johan Oviedo are capable of eating innings and present the upside to either pitch in long relief or make starts if called upon.
It’s a good luxury to have, but as the 2021 season showcased, you can never have enough pitching depth. Which is why the Cardinals would be smart to add another veteran arm on a cheap contract, even with plenty of internal options and top prospect Matthew Liberatore looming in the minors.