3 Cardinals pitchers who will begin the year at Triple-A and 3 who won't

The Cardinals have many bullpen options in 2024, but some of them will have to start the year at Triple-A.

St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers
St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages
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Ryan Fernandez will be on the Opening Day roster

While he will be one of the less trusted options to start the season, Ryan Fernandez will be on the Opening Day roster to open 2024. Because the Cardinals selected Fernandez in the Rule-5 draft, they are required to include him on the 26-man roster or they risk sending him back to the Boston Red Sox. His performance in Triple-A hasn't been great so far, but his tools are very intriguing.

His fastball approaches triple digits, and he complements it well with a high-whiff cutter and slider combination. While he posted elite strikeout numbers with the Red Sox system in Double-A, he's seen some regression in making the jump to Triple-A. On top of a high home run rate, it's uncertain if Fernandez will be a viable option at the Major League level, but he'll get some run to open the season. He's got all the tools to succeed; it's only a matter of if he can put them together.

Josh James will open the season in Triple-A

When the Cardinals signed Josh James to a Minor League contract, many feared it would be the last bullpen move for the Cardinals this offseason. However, James will be a non-roster invitee to the Cardinals' Spring Training, meaning he'll need to prove his health and effectiveness before earning his way onto the Cardinals roster.

James hasn't seen Major League action since the 2021 season, one in which he only pitched 5 innings, so it's unlikely he'll land on the 26-man roster right away. Instead, it's likely the Cardinals will let him see more game action in Triple-A before determining whether or not he's truly ready for Major League action and can contribute at a high level. If not, we could see him cut before the season starts or sometime during the early part of 2024. Rest assured, one more bullpen arm is still on the way.

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