Cardinals at Dodgers series preview: Everything you need to know for Opening Day

The St. Louis Cardinals face a tough opponent in Shohei Ohtani's Los Angeles Dodgers to open the 2024 season. Here's what to expect.

2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Gene Wang/GettyImages
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Game 4: Steven Matz vs Gavin Stone

Personally, I think Steven Matz is the second-best pitcher in the Cardinals' rotation (only behind Sonny Gray) and a true x-factor in the success of this team. However, with his injury concerns and inability to eat innings, it's fair to have him as the fourth man in the starting rotation. Any order between Mikolas, Thompson, Lynn, Matz, and Gibson is truly defensible as all of their skills are roughly similar, and not one pitcher really has the edge over another.

After a terrible start to the 2023 season, Matz was relegated to the bullpen for some time before he found himself once again and pitched exceptionally well for the remainder of the season. However, as is often the case with Steven Matz, a season-ending injury prevented him from truly taking off. Moreover, Cardinal fans' judgment of Matz is definitely clouded by extremely bad luck. If we look at expected metrics instead of his actual performance, his FIP of 3.78 in 2022 and 3.75 in 2023 is extremely solid.

The Dodgers are also throwing a question mark in their fourth domestic game with Gavin Stone, as the young pitching prospect struggled in his first taste of MLB play last season. However, with injuries to Ohtani the pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, and more, LA is calling upon the young starter after a tremendous Spring. Though a small sample, Stone's 0.93 ERA in Spring Training was enough to earn the nod as the fourth starter in the Dodgers' rotation.

But, Stone won't have it easy in his first start of 2024. The Cardinals' lineup is formidable and could roll over an inexperienced pitcher. And against the Dodgers, the St. Louis hitters will have to perform as advertised. Let's take a look.