No. 2: LHP Steven Matz
Matz, 31, had some well-documented struggles in his first year with the Cardinals in 2022. Signed to a four-year, $44M contract in the 2021-2022 offseason, he is going to be expected to be a key contributor to this team's rotation moving forward.
In 15 total appearances last year (10 starts) the longtime New York Met went 5-3 with a 5.25 ERA and a 73 ERA+. However, his FIP came in at 3.78 which suggests that he could've been one of the unluckier pitchers in the league last season. There is still hope to be had.
According to FanGraphs' Roster Resource projections, Matz should open the season as the Cardinals' No. 5 starter in the rotation. His Spring Training performance so far has backed this up and may be signaling a return to form for the eight-year veteran.
In three appearances (two starts), Matz is 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings. He has struck out 12 batters, walked three, and allowed just two earned runs.
Matz undoubtedly wants to avoid being sent to the bullpen again in 2023, so he will need to keep this strong string of performances going for a bit. There is a ton of organizational competition when it comes to the back end of the rotation including Zack Thompson, Jake Woodford, and Dakota Hudson.