5 most important players for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022

Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Steven Matz #22 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Minnesota Twins on September 18, 2021 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Steven Matz #22 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Minnesota Twins on September 18, 2021 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

No. 4: Steven Matz

Steven Matz was not the name most St. Louis Cardinals fans were yearning for coming into the offseason, but it’s the biggest name the team signed. Signing the 6’2″ lefty to a four-year, $44 million deal, the Cardinals will hope to have the 30-year-old as a strike-throwing anchor of the team’s rotation for the next few years.

On paper, Matz is the perfect pitcher to throw in the Cardinals’ system — he throws strikes and excels at getting ground balls. The biggest question for Matz (and most of the Cardinals’ rotation) is whether he is going to be able to stay healthy. Only three times in his seven-year career has Matz thrown more than 150 innings in a season. The Cardinals are entering 2022 already without Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes, putting more weight on the rest of the rotation to stay healthy and eat innings.

Luckily for Matz, the Cardinals won’t be asking him to be anything other than what he is. With the team’s stellar defense behind him, he should see some improvement over his two previous employers (Mets and Blue Jays), but the defense can’t help him if he isn’t healthy. Coming into the season as the team’s third or fourth starter, all Matz needs to do is be on the mound consistently.

Matz is cheap, but if he can’t stay on the mound the Cardinals’ minor league depth is going to be thrown into a bigger role than it is ready for.

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