3. Steven Matz
Steven Matz was a prize offseason addition to the Cardinals rotation last year after winning 14 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021. After a disappointing start to his Cardinals career, he is primed for a bounce-back season.
In 2023 for the Cardinals, Matz recorded a 5-3 record with a 5.25 ERA and made just 10 starts. At the end of the season when he regained his health, he was featured out of the bullpen as both a short and long-term relief option.
He is the only pitcher who is signed past the 2023 season, making him the team's ace as of the end of the 2023 campaign. There are a lot of things riding on Matz finding his 2021 form, where he struck out 144 batters.
His start to spring training is a reason for optimism. He has made one start in Grapefruit League play and has thrown 6.2 innings overall. He has given up three hits, a solo home run, and has struck out nine batters.
There has hardly ever been a question about Matz's ability to be a top of the rotation starter, and if he is healthy for most of the season, the Cardinals could be getting a top starting pitcher from their own organization.