Buying or selling the biggest storylines from the Cardinals' series loss to Dodgers

What takeaways should we have from the Cardinals opening series against the Dodgers?

Mar 31, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Steven Matz (32)
Mar 31, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Sell: The rotation is just as bad (if not worse) than last year

If you opened X (formerly known as Twitter) after Friday's loss, you would have seen waves of tweets from accounts saying the Cardinals rotation is awful, probably even worse than last year's group, and this team is destined to be one of the worst in baseball again.

Anyways....

Miles Mikolas looked bad on Thursday, and he's the guy I have had the biggest concerns about heading into the season. Zack Thompson gave up five runs in his first start, but most of the damage came from two mistakes he made during the game to Teoscar Hernandez. Not a good start, but considering he's just filling in for two weeks while Sonny Gray is working his way back (and that it was the Dodgers' lineup), I'm not terribly concerned.

Lance Lynn looked great in his first outing on Saturday, although a rain delay cut his day short to just four innings. Steven Matz managed 5.1 innings of one-run ball and looked like the five or six-and-dive guy that the Cardinals think he could be this year.

No one is trying to argue that this rotation is to be feared, but come on, it's already showing the signs of why it's a step up from last year's group. Let me remind you of just how bad the starters were in 2023...

Adam Wainwright - 7.40 ERA in 21 starts (4.2 IP per start)

Matthew Liberatore - 5.88 ERA in 11 starts (4.1 IP per start)

Dakota Hudson - 5.26 ERA in 12 starts (5.1 IP per start)

Jake Woodford - 6.95 ERA in 8 starts (4 IP per start)

Drew Rom - 8.02 ERA in 8 starts (4 IP per start)

That's sixty starts from five different starters whose ERAs ranged from 5.26 to 8.02...with three of those guys carrying 6.95 ERAs or higher! And five of them averaged under five innings per start!

I'm not even including Steven Matz's rough start to the 2023 season (in which he finished the season with 7 great starts) or Miles Mikolas' rough year (but he at least carried his 4.78 ERA over a much higher innings output, which is more valuable). Either way, if you think this group is already as bad as that one, then I don't think you truly understand how bad that team was and how significant of an upgrade Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, and Sonny Gray are.

No, Gibson and Lynn are not flashy upgrades, but when you're expecting to have ERAs somewhere in the 4.20-4.50 range and eat a lot of innings, that is a substantial upgrade over guys who get you less than five innings with ERAs north of 6.00.

The rotation may end up just being bad again, but to already cast them off as the exact same group as last year is a big leap to me, especially when, once again, they were facing the Dodgers, and even so, two of the four guys had good outings against them.