Acquiring a fifth starter is not enough for the Cardinals rotation

Patching a hole is direct and straightforward. But the foundation is showing cracks in the current rotation.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operation John Mozeliak has been very stern on what direction the organization will take at the 2024 trade deadline: acquire a solidified fifth starter. The team has played excellent baseball over the past couple of months and have moved themselves into the second NL Wild Card spot. Hope says they can catch the Brewers for the NL Central crown, but reality says they are in the middle pack fighting for one of the three Wild Card spots which is a much better outcome than 2023.

Given the recent resurgence from the team, it appears the glaring holes in the roster are hindering their chances of withstanding success. The bench is lackluster in quality, the bullpen needs more reliable options to give the three-headed monster a break, and the rotation is in dire need of a fifth starter. The latter is the more focused problem for the team. With Andre Pallante covering innings in that spot, the team is still staying afloat, but everyone knows this cannot last very long.

But even with acquiring a fifth starter like Eric Fedde or Tyler Anderson, that only patches a temporary hole. How reliable can our aged pitching staff be going into the dog days of summer? We have gotten to see very surprising results from Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn so far. But we have just reached summer and we are still a month out of the All-Star break. Miles Mikolas started off very shaky but has since turned it around. But the average age of these three guys is 36. They provide experience, determination, guidance, and wisdom. But they also provide fatigue, defectiveness, and injury risk. If the Cardinals only had one pitcher in the rotation with this resume, then a simple trade for Fedde and Anderson makes sense. But the team has three guys who fit this resume.

The whole reason they are paid is because they provide innings. They are also pitching very well right now and getting deep into games to have the three-headed monster close out the games. The formula for winning is working and it is showing in the standings. But will the same be said come the end of August? What if the veteran arms start to rapidly decline in performance and lead to injuries? The depth to fill those rotation spots is very lackluster and if the team is dead set on competing for the postseason in 2024, they need reassurance with available and reliable arms.

With that, who and what are the options for the Cardinals? Ideally, this can be a bullpen arm who can fill in as a starter with a track record in doing so. With a competitive AL East, the Red Sox might look to retool their organization for the next wave of young talent. An option would be acquiring Nick Pivetta who has prior success in both roles. Another potential candidate who fits this role would be the Tampa Bay Rays' Zack Littell who is well within the Cardinals' budget. Both players can be utilized out of the pen or fill in the rotation providing certainty to the pitching staff and providing protection to the lineup.

The season looks to be much more promising than what was experienced by Cardinals fans in 2023. As we reach the summer months, fans are getting excited about a postseason push which feels normal again. But this feeling will only last so long before the roster shows its weaknesses. It is best to prepare for the shortcomings before the deadline passes and you say it is too late. It is better to be proactive than reactive when the time runs out.