1. Jake Woodford
Jake Woodford is quietly having one of the best Spring Training performances among pitchers during the preseason. He has appeared in four games this spring, netting 12.2 innings of work.
In those 12.2 innings, he has recorded one start, eight hits, and has struck out eleven batters while giving up just four runs. He is making a strong case to be involved in a very crowded bullpen in St. Louis and to be on the shortlist for a starting role if a pitcher goes down.
The 26-year-old is entering his fourth big league season, and through all four seasons as a major leaguer, he has been up and down from AAA and the majors. He posted a strong season in the bigs last year when he was up in St. Louis, but that didn't stop the Cardinals from continually sending him down.
He made just one start for the Cardinals last year and made appearances in 27 games overall. He concluded his 2022 campaign with a 4-0 record, a 2.23 ERA, and posted 24 strikeouts in 48.1 innings of work.
Even more impressive than his ability to limit his earned run total to 12 runs was his ability to keep the ball in the yard. He allowed one home run last season and has given up 15 over his three-year big league career.
There are many question marks in the Cardinals rotation. There are injury-prone players and players who have not proven that they can be consistently relied upon in St. Louis.
Like it or not, Woodford is pitching his way on the shortlist of taking a full-time starting rotation role next season, given the lack of pitchers under contract after the conclusion of the 2023 campaign.