Zack Thompson will be on the Opening Day roster
Contrary to Liberatore, Zack Thompson started his Major League career as an effective reliever. But, with the Cardinals looking for innings in the rotation, Thompson was sent back to Memphis to work on his craft as a starting pitcher. He looked solid in a starting role during the second half of 2023, but his inability to eat innings and still relatively unproven nature as a starter led the Cardinals to pursue other roles for Thompson this offseason.
While Thompson is more likely than not the next man up in the event of an injury to the rotation, he's already proven himself as a quality option out of the bullpen. He doesn't have a high-octane fastball like some of the other options in the Cardinals' bullpen, but he's a solid lefty option for late innings and long relief. While he greatly outperformed his expected numbers in 2022, his performance and profile as both a starter and a reliever will be extremely valuable to the Cardinals at the Major League level.
Drew Rom will open the season in Triple-A
Drew Rom was one of the headliners in a large prospect pool when the Cardinals shipped Jack Flaherty to the Baltimore Orioles at the 2023 Trade Deadline. He instantly impressed with Memphis, but the performance in St. Louis was far less eye-catching. With the Cardinals needing starts after trading away two of their five starters at the deadline, however, a role in the starting rotation fell upon Rom.
His 8 starts were disappointing, to say the least, as Rom recorded an 8.08 ERA in 33.2 innings. His alarmingly high 1.9 HR/9 and 5.1 BB/9 indicated that he was not yet ready for Major League action. He'll remain an intriguing depth option, especially if he keeps up his production at Memphis, but for now, there's no real spot for him on the Opening Day roster, even in the bullpen.