Have the inning eaters improved the Cardinals pitching staff?

The inning pitched by starters is exactly what is was at this time last year. So is the record.
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

With Adam Wainwright retiring this offseason and the pair of Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery traded at the 2023 trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals had three starters they needed to replace. This was an exceptional year to reload your pitching staff. There was a Cy Young Award winner (Blake Snell), a pitcher who was an MVP (Shohei Ohtani), a Japanese pitcher who was a three-time MVP (Yoshinobu Yamamoto), the number one pitcher in all of baseball last year getting batters to swing at pitches outside the zone (Aaron Nola), as well as several other difference makers. 

John Mozeliak had different thoughts on how to rebuild the staff. He wanted more innings from his starters. His primary goal was to not wear out his bullpen. How has that worked out?

After 16 games, the Cardinals last year had a record of seven wins and nine losses. This year they were the same at seven wins and nine losses. 

After 16 games last year, the Cardinals starting pitchers threw for 84.2 innings. This year, after adding all those innings eaters, they are precisely the same with 84.2 innings. 

I know everyone is screaming at your screen saying something about starting Thompson instead of Gray for a couple of games. Last year, Adam Wainwright didn’t start his first game until May 6th and the Cardinals replaced him with Jake Woodford.  

One thing Mozeliak was looking to change this year was finding more swing and miss. Last year the starters had 77 strikeouts. The Cardinals, ranked 27th, have only 66 strikeouts this year. 

How about home runs allowed? Last year HR/9 was 1.28 placing them 19th. This year the Cardinals rank 26th with 1.49.

Last year the Cardinals ranked 19th in WAR for the first 16 games with the starters. This year we are 28th with only Colorado ranking lower.  

Comparing them to the league numbers, they are not looking any better. Home runs have gone down across the league from 336 to 292. The Cardinals went up from 12 to 14. The strike-out percentage league-wide has stayed the same (22.2 in 2023, 22.3 in 2024) The Cardinals’ strike-out rate fell from 19.3 in 2023 to 18.5 this year, dropping from 20th to 27th. 

The focus right now is on the offense because scoring is down. This offense had a track record and will probably heat up as the weather does. Paul Goldschmidt has a 26-point jump for average over his career between April and May. When they do, the focus may shift back to the starters. At that point, we might see that the Cardinals have different names on the jerseys, but the results may just look very much like last year.