6 Cardinals who are scuffling in Spring Training

Poor performances during Spring Training shouldn't make St. Louis Cardinals fans too nervous, but these six players could stand to step it up to assuage those who are concerned.

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John King

John King emerged as a bullpen stalwart after his trade to the Cardinals from the Texas Rangers as part of the return for Jordan Montgomery, owning a 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings after the deal. His 3.84 FIP suggested that he was getting by with smoke and mirrors, though, and his performance in Spring Training isn't doing him any favors.

King needs to elicit weak contact to be successful, but he's been smacked around in spring, surrendering a whopping 14 hits and seven earned runs in his five innings of work so far. His spot as a left-hander out of the bullpen could be usurped by Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore or even spring standout Drew Rom. King still has a minor league option that the Cardinals could utilize, so he could soon be headed to Triple-A if he can't iron out his issues.

Willson Contreras

Willson Contreras started slowly in 2023, but it was ultimately a successful year for the backstop, as he led the Cardinals in OPS at .826. He has sputtered again this spring, hitting only .176. However, all three of his hits have been doubles.

From the start of last season through June, Contreras hit only .215, but from July 1 on, he batted .339 with a 1.059 OPS. Now 31 years old, Contreras will likely require more maintenance days to keep him fresh behind the plate. Spending more time as a designated hitter will let Contreras focus on his offense more, which has always been the strength of his game.

Ivan Herrera should spell Contreras most days, and his promising play last season and in the Caribbean Series should make him a strong backup. A collapse from Contreras is unlikely, but a dependable backup is a luxury few teams can boast.