With Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas as unknowns, the St. Louis Cardinals should consider adding another impact starting pitcher.
If the 2021 season taught the St. Louis Cardinals anything, it’s that you can never have enough pitching. Their rotation crumbled, their bullpen was battered and bruised, and it forced president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to trade for J.A. Happ and Jon Lester, two aging veterans deep in the back-nine of their careers.
It’s why the Cardinals signed left-hander Steven Matz to a four-year, $44 million deal earlier this offseason. And it’s why they need to continue to pursue more starting pitching once the lockout ends.
I have been a proponent that the Cardinals should sign a pitcher along the lines of Happ and Lester. I’m starting to back off that stance. I think it would be smart for Mozeliak to pursue more impactful arms. Just look at Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, their Nos. 4 and 5 starters. They pitched in a combined 11 games last season, with Hudson returning from Tommy John surgery and Mikolas battling numerous injuries.
Yes, both players have talent and if they pitch how they are capable and stay healthy, the Cardinals’ 2022 rotation will be the best it’s been in years. But that is a huge “what-if” and not one the Cardinals can risk, especially with this being Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright’s final seasons, not to mention a pivotal year that will determine whether Nolan Arenado stays in St. Louis long-term.
Of course, finding such an option this late in the offseason will be difficult. Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman are all off the board. Clayton Kershaw comes with injury questions and could decide between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers or retirement. Garrett Richards struggled mightily with the Boston Red Sox. The free-agent options the Cardinals could be choosing from options such as Zach Davies, Brett Anderson and Matthew Boyd.
The trade market features more high-end options, especially with the Oakland A’s likely to have a massive sell-off that could feature pitchers such as Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea and/or Frankie Montas. Of course, either pitcher would require the Cardinals to part with some of their top prospects, which Mozeliak has shown no willingness to do.
But the Cardinals should consider any and all options when it comes to the rotation. After all, it nearly derailed their 2021 season, and could threaten to do so again in 2022 if Hudson and/or Mikolas falter once again.