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.

San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals
San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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JoJo Romero

JoJo Romero stepped up after the trade deadline in 2023 to bolster an ineffective back end of the bullpen, serving as the Cardinals' closer late in the season. He pitched to a 3.68 ERA and a sparkling 2.22 FIP in 36.2 innings.

Romero has had little success in Spring Training so far, giving up eight hits, six earned runs and four walks in five innings. As a left-hander whom the Cardinals are looking to use as a key bullpen piece, Romero will hopefully return to being the effective pitcher the Cardinals saw last season.

If Romero is unable to rediscover his 2023 form, other bullpen southpaws will have to step up, such as Zack Thompson and John King. Romero appeared to unlock something in his toolbox after the trade to the Cardinals in 2022, so it's reasonable to hope that he will continue to pitch well despite a shaky spring.

Dylan Carlson

With outfielders Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar potentially unavailable for the start of the season, Dylan Carlson is expected to slide into a starting role. But after a rookie year that displayed so much promise, Carlson has yet to come close to replicating those numbers.

So far in spring, Carlson is hitting only .208, and there were murmurs before Spring Training that the Cardinals might try to have the switch-hitting Carlson bat only from the right side. That doesn't appear to be in the cards this season, but something needs to change for Carlson to have a future in St. Louis.

The Cardinals shipped Richie Palacios to the Tampa Bay Rays for Andrew Kittredge, and it's worth wondering if Palacios could have taken the fourth outfielder job over Carlson after showing real promise late in the season. Carlson needs to figure out his swing soon to take advantage of the opportunity he's receiving, especially since it could be his last.

Spring Training means nothing, but it does provide a glimpse into what players might be working on. Just as players who excel in spring can crash back to earth, so too can those who struggle flip a switch when the regular season comes around.

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