5 things that would need to happen for the Cardinals to compete for the World Series

The Cardinals are not in the conversation of World Series contenders right now, but what would have to happen to get them there?

San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals
San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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#2 - Sonny Gray must pitch like a front-line starter and someone else must emerge as a middle-of-the-rotation arm

The biggest addition of the Cardinals offseason was starting pitcher Sonny Gray, who is now tasked with leading a rotation that was a disaster in 2023.

Fresh off finishing second in American League Cy Young award voting, Gray appears ready to step into this new challenge, and he has the stuff and the track record needed for the Cardinals to rely on him as one of their top starters. The problem I have with their rotation isn't that Sonny Gray is leading it, it's that they did not grab a second front-line starter to pair with him.

Gray must pitch like a front-line starter for the club to compete at a high level in 2024 because no one else on the roster has that kind of upside. After Gray, each of the Cardinals starters looks much more like number four or five starters, which doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of any opponents.

From that group of Steven Matz, Lance Lynn, Miles Mikolas, and Kyle Gibson, the Cardinals need one of them to emerge as a number three type starter, someone you could potentially throw in Game 3 of a playoff series and feel alright about your chances. Matz and Lynn in particular have qualities that could lead to them filling that void, but that all remains to be seen.

While the Cardinals plan on those five carrying them at least through the trade deadline, there's always the possibility that a young arm can emerge with a higher upside. Zack Thompson and Matthew Liberatore are both competing for a rotation spot during Spring Training and could emerge as better options. Gordon Graceffo and Tekoah Roby are two other guys that Mozeliak has mentioned as potential contributors this year, and maybe one of them will emerge as that guy.

We'll address the need for another front-line starter later, but they really do need the current rotation group to provide this year for them to succeed.