After toiling in the minor leagues behind Cardinals iron man Yadier Molina and backup Andrew Knizner for seemingly eons, Ivan Herrera looked to finally be getting a shot in 2023. Then the Cardinals signed Willson Contreras, dooming Herrera to another year donning Memphis gear for the majority of the season.
Now that the Cardinals have non-tendered Knizner, it appears once again that Herrera will have a shot to be the primary backup in St. Louis. He was impressive in his stint with the Cardinals last season, hitting .297 in an admittedly limited 44 plate appearances. Herrera displayed a scintillating 61.5% hard-hit rate in that span and was average behind the plate.
If Herrera can provide anywhere near that level of production for an entire season, he will likely push Contreras to a near full-time designated hitter role. Fans should be excited about what Herrera could provide the Cardinals in 2024 with an extended look.
Andre Pallante had his issues in 2023, pitching to a 4.76 ERA and striking out only 5.7 batters per nine innings. But there is promise dwelling beneath the surface for Pallante; despite his lack of whiffs, he is a ground-ball machine, amassing an eye-popping 77% grounder rate.
Pallante struggles to get chases on his breaking balls out of the zone, which lets hitters sit on his fastballs. His chase rate was a meager 21.9%, which put him in the second percentile in 2023. Perhaps that will change with the "death ball" Pallante has reportedly been working on, which is a curveball that drops straight down. If Pallante hones this pitch, he could finally possess a weapon that leads batters to chase.
Some fans may have given up on Pallante after his shaky season, but if he develops a strong breaking ball, the 25-year-old has a chance to be a heavily utilized bullpen piece in 2024 and perhaps receive some starts in case someone in the rotation goes down with injury.