Five Biggest Questions Facing The St. Louis Cardinals in 2022

Mike Maddux of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on from the top step of dugout during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on September 05, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Cardinals 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Mike Maddux of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on from the top step of dugout during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on September 05, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Cardinals 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals is removed from the game by Mike Shildt #8 during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Busch Stadium on August 24, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals is removed from the game by Mike Shildt #8 during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Busch Stadium on August 24, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /

How healthy will the starting rotation be?

Probably the biggest obstacle the 2021 Cardinals faced was injuries to starting pitching. The team had to scrape and claw the entire summer to patch together innings, looking to minor leaguers like Johan Oviedo who were not ready yet and signing/trading for veterans J.A. Happ, Jon Lester, and Wade LeBlanc just to survive. The Cardinals have already lost Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes to start the year, and starters Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson are returning from major injuries.

The depth of the Cardinals pitching will be tested early on this year, and if any more injuries occur while Flaherty and Reyes are on the mend, the club could get into trouble quick. St. Louis really needs Flaherty especially to be healthy, as he is an X-Factor for the rotation to be more than an innings eating bunch. Adam Wainwright was terrific last year, but it is hard to bank on him repeating those numbers another year. Dakota Hudson, Steven Matz, and Miles Mikolas could raise their play, but none have the ceiling of Flaherty.

The offense has the potential to carry the team for stretches (more on that next), but to be a true contender, the Cardinals will need healthy starting pitching, or at least acquire some.

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