The St. Louis Cardinals fell short of their goals for 2022, but these free agent additions in the offseason could make them true contenders in 2023.
The team is good, and good in most areas. The lineup is good, the pitching is good, the defense is good. But in order to win in October, you need to be great, and have a little bit of luck on their side. The Cardinals tend to air on the luck side, but it’s time for St. Louis to make the upgrades necessary to compete with the best the National League has to offer.
I’ll examine five free agent targets that could provide major upgrades for St. Louis in light of their playoff struggles.
Jose Quintana was excellent in Game 1, and Miles Mikolas put on a good performance. But the Phillies showed the Cardinals just how important it is to have ace level pitching when you get to October. The Cardinals duo went 5.1 IP and 4.1 IP respectively, while Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola were able to shut down the Cardinals in 6.1 IP and 6.2 IP respectively.
Having a guy like Carlos Rodon at the top of your rotation allows you to matchup with arms like these, and go deep into games and put less stress on the bullpen. In Game 1, Jordan Hicks and Giovanni Gallegos had to be used early on, causing Oli Marmol to ask Ryan Helsley to get five outs to end the game. Rodon changes that.
Rodon was 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 178 innings of work in 2022. Injuries have always been the main concern with Rodon, but this year he remained healthy, and is coming off a 2021 season where he had an ERA of 2.37.
What Rodon really brings to this rotation that it currently lacks is strikeout stuff, punching out 237 batters this last season. Rodon, Jack Flaherty, and some combination of Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Jose Quintana, or Adam Wainwright would make for a formidable rotation in the regular season, and especially October.