2. Tyler Glasnow
The story for Tyler Glasnow's career has been that he is a top-tier pitcher *when he's healthy*. That caveat at the end may give Cardinal fans shivers and concerns. Glasnow has never pitched more than 120 innings in a season, and he hardly played in 2022 due to Tommy John surgery in 2021. For as good of a pitcher as he is, there is an equal amount of concern that he will face a serious injury next year. Also, Glasnow is a trade candidate who is projected to receive $20 million through arbitration; he would cost the Cardinals major league talent and a decent chunk of change.
Glasnow has never been nominated for a Cy Young award, and he has never been an All-Star. The accolades aren't quite there for the right-handed pitcher; however, the stats back up his dominance on the mound. In his career, Glasnow has a 3.89 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 1.206 WHIP, and an 11.5 K/9 rate. He is a strong pitcher who controls the game. His K% and whiff rates from 2023 are near the top of the league.
In 2023, Glasnow had a 3.53 ERA, 2.91 FIP(!), 1.083 WHIP, and struck out over 12 batters per nine innings. He pitched 120 innings, the most of his entire career. He was in the top 3% of all pitchers in K%, but he did give up hard hits (11th percentile in hard-hit percentage, 4th percentile in barrel percentage, and 15th percentile in average exit velocity.
Glasnow's fastball consistently hits 96 and touches 99 on occasion, his curveball is excellent at generating whiffs, and his slider plays off his breaking pitches well. Glasnow could be the ace of the staff when he's healthy.
With this starting rotation, the hope is that Nola, Giolito, and Mikolas can pitch enough innings that Glasnow's possible (inevitable?) absence during the season doesn't affect the team too much. Also, players like Matthew Liberatore, Zach Thompson, Michael McGreevy, and Gordon Graceffo would be capable enough to fill in should an injury arise.