The St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation needs a full revamp for 2024. It was the weakest part of the team last year, and it makes sense that most discussions surrounding the team this offseason have revolved around adding starting pitchers. With plenty of options in both the trade market and free agency, St. Louis can take a variety of routes
Projected salary numbers and payroll numbers have been discussed by a variety of writers, but I will use numbers by Redbird Rants' own Josh Jacobs who uses Derrick Goold primarily. The Cardinals, assuming they cut ties with some of their arbitration candidates, are likely to have approximately $60 million to spend this offseason. That is plenty of money to spend on two starters, a couple of relievers, and to trade for a starter with a higher salary.
St. Louis needs to add three starters greater than Miles MIkolas and Steven Matz. Strikeouts will be ideal this offseason, and the Cardinals will want some pitchers who can pitch greater than 170-175 innings in a season given the injury history of Steven Matz. A true ace would also be nice, but that title is given to so few players in baseball that a strong "#2" pitcher will have to do.
Keep in mind, there are still plenty of options in the minors or bullpen for the Cardinals who could fill in some innings should an injury arise. While it won't be ideal for a player like Zach Thompson or Matthew Liberatore to be a starter in the rotation all year, they are more than capable of filling in 75-100 innings in the rotation.
Any salary figures will come from this piece in the Athletic by former MLB general manager Jim Bowden.
Here is a possible starting rotation for the Cardinals in 2024.
5. Steven Matz
The Cardinals signed Steven Matz to a four-year deal worth $44 million in the 2021-2022 offseason. In two seasons, Matz has only pitched a total of 153 innings in 27 starts and 13 relief appearances. Injuries have been the story of his tenure in St. Louis thus far.
He has an ERA of 4.29, a FIP of 3.76, a WHIP of 1.307, and has struck out 8.9 batters per nine innings during his time in St. Louis. Those numbers would be very solid for a fifth starter if he could remain healthy. If the Cardinals receive 150 innings out of their #5 starter with a sub-4.50 ERA and a strikeout rate at nine batters per nine innings, their rotation will be very strong.
Matz's health is the big question, however. Since his signing, he has faced a shoulder injury that kept him out for two months, a knee injury that ended his 2022 season, and a lat injury that severely limited him this past year. He has a lengthy history of arm injuries as well, so there is concern that he won't even see 100 innings this next season.
Given the unpredictability with Matz, the Cardinals will want to sign a pitcher who can stay healthy and possibly go deep into games. If Matz can stay healthy, he will be a more than serviceable fifth starter. If Matz struggles or if he gets hurt, there are some younger pitchers who could fill in his spot for a reasonable portion of the season.