Cardinals making amends for past mistakes with Andre Pallante

St. Louis is notorious for turning minor-league starters into major-league relievers. Perhaps that trend is changing.
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals' search for a 5th starter came to a close. After weeks of trotting out an unprepared Matthew Liberatore and relying on rain delays and postponements to buy them some more time, the team finally decided to call up a AAA starter to make some spot starts for the injured Steven Matz.

Andre Pallante didn't disappoint.

He threw 6 innings of strong baseball. His final line, 3 hits allowed, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 2 double plays induced, kept the Cincinnati Reds in check for most of the game. He allowed Oli Marmol to rest certain relievers, and he absolutely gave the Cardinals a chance to win, which they did, thus getting the team back to the .500 for the first time since April 16th.

What Pallante's start shows is more than a guy who can occasionally pitch well enough to give his team a chance to win. Rather, Pallante's performance proves to the Cardinals brass that perhaps starting pitching prospects should remain starters until they prove they can't cut it in the majors.

Andre Pallante, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Zack Thompson, and Matthew Liberatore were all at one point in their careers starting pitchers in the minors. In the last 6 years, the Cardinals have turned each into a reliever without giving them a fair shake in the majors as a starting pitcher.

While we have seen plenty of Matthew Liberatore as a starting pitcher in the majors, the majority of his starts have come during points in the season where he wasn't stretched out nor was he able to mentally adjust. His value this year has been as a reliever, and he's been good in that role. This offseason would be a good opportunity to finally give him a full run as a starting pitcher despite his starts being less than optimal during the month of May.

Jordan Hicks is succeeding in San Francisco as a starter because he was given time to prepare, and he was guided along the way. Sure, Hicks can throw 100+ with ease and movement that will make someone's head spin. But if he's able to take his foot off the gas, as the Giants have discovered, he can throw with pinpoint accuracy and go deep into games.

Ryan Helsley has been an excellent closer for the Cardinals, one of the best in the game this year. It's possible that he could provide even more value as a starting pitcher in St. Louis, but he's never been given a chance. Rather, the Cardinals threw the righty flamethrower into the bullpen the moment he was needed in the majors. An offseason program that allows him to stretch out in his final year of arbitration next year could give the Cardinals a good look at whether he can be a starting pitcher for them for the foreseeable future or if he needs to remain their closer.

Zack Thompson was sent back down to Triple-A Memphis earlier this year after lackluster showings out of the bullpen. His stated goal: to stretch out and become a reliable starting pitcher. He's done reasonably well thus far with his progress.

In the franchise's deeper history, they let Adam Wainwright pitch in relief during the 2006 season, but they then set Uncle Charlie free to start games in 2007. I don't think anyone in the organization or fanbase regrets that decision.

What Andre Pallante did Wednesday afternoon may just seem like a blip on the radar that is the 2024 season. The team needed a spot starter, his turn in the rotation in Memphis was due, so he was brought up to make a brief appearance. Under this veneer, however, is a change in philosophy for an organization that has become stale.

Andre Pallante was once a fine starting pitcher in the minors who could get himself into trouble at times, but he was excellent at generating ground balls to avoid blow-up innings. He proved his value and abilities against the Reds, and his success should lend the Cardinals to making some organizational and philosophical changes. Keep starters starters until they show they can't cut it at the highest level of professional baseball.

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