No. 2: RHP Dakota Hudson
Hudson, 28, has had an up-and-down big-league career to this point. The five-year veteran has shown promise, primarily in 2019 when he went 16-7 in 32 starts, good enough for a fifth-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year standings.
He made a combined 10 appearances in 2020 and 2021 thanks in part to Tommy John surgery, and while he looked good during this time, this is when the current decline he's in right now began.
Hudson made 27 appearances last year for the Cardinals and didn't produce the same as he had pre-surgery. In 139+ innings, he managed just a 4.45 ERA, 4.34 FIP, and 86 ERA+, meaning he was 14 percent below league average on the season.
If the season started today, FanGraphs' Roster Resource has Hudson beginning the year in Triple-A with the Memphis Redbirds, but now that Wainwright is down with an injury, there could be a spot opening for Hudson in the big leagues. He has extensive experience as a starting pitcher and is only a few years removed from being one of the more promising arms in the system.
The biggest thing keeping Hudson from a guaranteed spot is the amount of competition he faces. The Cardinals have done an exceptional job at either drafting or trading for young pitching talent. While Hudson has at times found his name amongst this group, he will need a strong finish in Spring Training to warrant his inclusion in the major league rotation.